Ontario NDP releases plan to end for-profit long-term care

The Ontario New Democratic Party has revealed an eight-year plan to create a new long-term care system in the province — including transitioning all facilities to a public model, adding tens of thousands of new spaces for the elderly and eliminating the waiting list for long-term care if the party is elected in 2022. 

65% of COVID-19-related deaths in the province have been in long-term care homes

Orchard Villa long-term care home in Pickering, Ont., had the highest death toll in Ontario. The Ontario NDP released a plan Friday to reform the long-term care system if it forms a government in 2022. (Getty Images)

The Ontario New Democratic Party revealed an eight-year plan Friday to create a new long-term care system in the province — including transitioning all facilities to a public model, adding tens of thousands of new spaces for the elderly and eliminating the waiting list for long-term care if the party is elected in 2022. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a disaster hiding behind the walls of Ontario's long-term care homes," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in a news release. 

"We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave," she said. 

The New Democrats released their plan one day after the office of the provincial Patient Ombudsman published a report that found complaints about long-term care homes increased over 370 per cent from March 1 to June 30 as the pandemic began sweeping through care facilities. As of Wednesday, the province was reporting that 1,952 residents in long-term care have died due to COVID-19, making up 65 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in Ontario. 

Cramped quarters and the neglect of residents, coupled with underpaid staff who sometimes worked at multiple homes were issues exacerbated by the pandemic and led to the death toll in long-term care facilities, experts told CBC News. 

Plan to cost $750M annually over 8 years, $3B a year in operating costs

The NDP says its plan will cost $750 million in capital investments per year over eight years starting in 2022 if the party comes to power, plus $3 billion in annual operating costs. It includes:

  • Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer.
  • Funding for more and better-paid full-time positions for personal support workers.
  • Funding for "culturally relevant care."
  • The creation of 50,000 new long-term care spaces for the elderly.
  • The eventual conversion of the long-term care sector to public ownership.

The Ontario PC government had announced in July that it will "immediately" create new long-term care beds across the province. The Ford government also launched a pilot program as a part of that plan, beginning with the construction of two new long-term care homes in Mississauga, that will see 640 beds added by 2021.

WATCH | Doug Ford announces new funding for long-term care:

Ontario to spend $540M to protect residents in long-term care homes

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Duration 1:23
Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised on Tuesday to protect seniors in long-term care facilities with increased spending and new visitor restrictions in some regions.

"After years of under-investment in long-term care, we are getting shovels in the ground faster and delivering on our commitment to build 30,000 long-term care beds over the next decade," said Premier Doug Ford in a news release in August, when he announced the construction of another home at the Humber River Hospital's Finch site.

The province said at the time it will be investing $1.75 billion toward long-term care homes. New homes will meet "modern design standards" that feature air conditioning and private or semi-private rooms, the government said. 

The premier also committed in July to changing existing legislation to ensure air conditioning would be in all homes, after families complained about sweltering conditions. 

On Oct 1., the Ford government announced it would invest $461 million to temporarily raise hourly wages for close to 150,000 personal support workers.

But Horwath has been critical of Ford's decisions around long-term care throughout the pandemic, and the NDP's report claims Ford should have made changes more quickly to protect residents and staff working in the homes.

WATCH | Long-term care homes are grappling with climbing COVID-19 infections:

Ontario scrambles to contain 2nd round of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes

2 years ago
Duration 2:11
There are at least 46 confirmed outbreaks at Ontario long-term care homes as the province scrambles to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 from getting out of control. But after almost 1,900 deaths in long-term care homes since the pandemic began, some say the province should have been able to prevent these new outbreaks.

Horwath says an NDP government would build not-for-profit facilities that are "home-like" settings rather than "impersonal, institutional-like" care homes, and implement new standards to ensure new homes are built under the new model, while older homes are phased out. 

Along with those changes, Horwath says the NDP is "committed to creating full-time and well-paid jobs for personal support workers" to increase staff retention and make it a career more people consider.

Horwath is also committing to creating "culturally-responsive" care to make seniors feel "included" in homes regardless of background.