Timeline too long for more hands-on care in long-term care homes, says NDP health critic
The province says a new standard of care will be in place by 2025
Ontario's opposition health critic says the province's move to establish a new standard of care for long-term care homes is the right move, but she says the announcement made by Premier Doug Ford on Monday isn't the good news she was hoping for.
"I have no problem to say thank you when there's good news coming. But in politics you learn to read between the lines," said France Gélinas, who is the NDP MPP for the riding of Nickelbelt.
The new standard would see long-term care residents receive an average of four hours of direct care every day — the "gold standard in the long-term care sector," said Ford — and something Gélinas has advocated for. But Gélinas says the province's goal to have the new standards in place by 2024–25 is too slow.
"In five years, who knows which government will be in power by then. Residents need help now. They have a staffing plan, they have the recommendations and have agreed to them. I want action today," Gélinas said.
'Report after report'
Gélinas has been advocating for an improved standard of care for years, having campaigned on the issue in 2007, when she was first elected to Queen's Park.
Since then, she says, "report after report" has said that a minimum standard of four hours of hands-on care is needed. The most recent being the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.
Gélinas said more hands-on care will not only benefit the people living in long-term care homes, it will also help employers recruit personal support workers (PSWs).
"We have in Sudbury hundreds of PSWs who love what they do, who want to work with residents, who are forced to go work anywhere else because they have — all you offer them — is part time work, poorly paid with no sick days, no benefits, and a work load that nobody can handle, that a human being cannot handle," Gélinas said.
She says the improved standard of care will make the work load more manageable, which, along with better pay and benefits, would solve the recruitment problem.
Gélinas introduced a bill to increase the standard of care in 2016, which passed second reading in 2017, when the Liberals were in power, however it did not become law. She tried again last week and her private member's bill, the Time to Care Act, is again making its way through the legislature.
"I am happy that the premier is saying the right thing and after we reintroduced the bill for second reading last Wednesday. But I will believe it once I see concrete actions that hold every single of the 626 long term care homes to account."