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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Province seeks to improve long-term care in latest budget

- direct care for long-term residents will increase to an average of four-hours per day -

by Adam Gault

After a delay of nearly eight months, due to COVID-19, the Ontario government released the annual budget on Thursday, November 5, which is said will address concerns surrounding long-term care homes that were exacerbated due to the pandemic.

  Looking at around $187 billion in total spending for the fiscal year, the 2020 budget focuses largely on pandemic recovery, with funds allocated for hospitals, healthcare, tax breaks for small business and seniors, and tourism.

  As part of this commitment, the government will increase the amount of direct care long-term residents will receive to an average of four-hours per day over the next five years. To support these measures, tens of thousands of personal support workers, and various nurses, will be hired, beginning with a pledge to hire 3,700 frontline healthcare workers this fall alone.

  “I made a promise to long-term care residents, their families, and their caregivers that we would deliver better care for our seniors,” Premier Doug Ford stated in a news release alongside the budget. “Today, we are delivering on that promise and acting on the early recommendations of Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission. By increasing the hours of daily direct care for residents, we will improve their quality of life and ensure they are more comfortable and safe.”

  Closer to home, NDP Essex MPP Taras Natyshak said the 2020 budget doesn’t go far enough to ensure families, businesses, and municipalities have the necessary tools to deal with the pandemic, and that the Ford government’s funding doesn’t go far enough to help those in long-term care.

  “The budget shows a funding reduction in long-term care from $4.63 billion to $4.53 billion. This reduction can only result in reductions in hands on care for the elderly – which is already inadequate; less resources to hire and train qualified staff; and less funding for PPE to protect workers and visitors,” Natyshak said. “This is an unconscionable cut to our most vulnerable citizens in the middle of a pandemic that has already exposed our shortcomings in our private long-term care home model.”

  Adding to that, Natyshak said the budget does nothing to address the $850 million deficit faced by the entirety of Ontario hospitals, which he said will force hospitals to make tough decisions on staffing and healthcare delivery in the Province.

  “This can only impact the care Ontarians need, from longer wait times for surgery, to delaying vital treatment, to waiting to see a doctor in emergency situations,” Natyshak explained. “Our hospitals are still resorting to caring for patients in hallways, a practice Ford vowed to end.”

  Long-term care homes currently employ more than 100,000 across Ontario, with the Province pledging $540 million in the budget to prepare homes for future instances of COVID-19, with funding to go towards enhancing COVID-19 prevention and supporting staffing and ongoing operational costs.


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