CAMBRIDGE — Starting in 2022, the NDP will overhaul home care to end wait times, deliver more consistent care, and support aging Ontarians to live in their own homes longer. The commitment is part of the NDP’s comprehensive plan to make all home care and long-term care public and not-for-profit within eight years.
On Thursday, MPPs Catherine Fife (Waterloo) and Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) shared the NDP’s plan in Cambridge, and set out how it will help improve the quality of life for aging residents in the region. They were joined by two local PSWs, Karen Maleka and Yasmin Vanos, who discussed their experiences of caring for older adults in their homes, and the impossible demands faced by PSWs without the support and resources they need.
“We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave. And we have to overhaul the system to make sure care is never again dangerous for parents and grandparents,” said Fife. “We’re going to help people to live in their own home longer and with dignity, giving them a better quality of life as they age.”
Lindo says we need to end the for-profit, understaffed patchwork of home care companies, and make investments to give older adults the opportunity to stay in their own home longer with excellent home and community care to support them.
“Instead of a revolving door of part-time and temp caregivers, your parents and grandparents deserve to have consistent care from a familiar face. Someone who isn’t rushed, and has time to care, and time to listen. We’re going to achieve that with better paid, better trained, full-time caregivers, in an all-public and not-for-profit system, and a regulated selection of core services — a basic set of guarantees home care services, no matter what community you live in,” said Lindo.
The former Conservative government privatized home care. The Liberals continued privatizing, underfunding and under-regulating, leaving Ontario with a patchwork system where home care services are delivered by chronically understaffed for-profit companies. In 2019, almost 18,000 people living in long-term care homes could have continued to live at home if the proper supports were available and appropriately funded, and services are disproportionately thin in northern and rural communities.
“Families here in Cambridge, and across the region, need to see a substantial investment in long-term care, more beds, more home care and more hours of care. Older adults and their families can’t afford any more of Doug Ford’s cuts. Our plan represents a record investment in better care for aging Ontarians and peace of mind for their families,” added Lindo.
The NDP’s plan will end the wait times for home care. In its first term in government, the NDP will invest at least $1 billion dollars in home care, increasing service volumes every year, while phasing out for-profit corporations that cut corners when it comes to care and pocket the difference.
“We can have a system where every last dollar goes into better care, and better quality of life for our loved ones,” said Fife. “Your parents deserve to be better off. No matter how much money is in their retirement fund.”
Video of today's press conference
Karen Maleka, personal support worker in Cambridge
“I now work in home care in the community, because in long-term care you are run off your feet – I had nine people to bathe in three hours. There was never enough time to be there for the client. In the community we get an hour for each client which is not enough. Our clients are not getting the care and empathy they so deserve. We are treating them like second class citizens. I would love to show more empathy but I don’t get the chance. I have to do two jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes I am the only person my clients see. We are missing something, and we can do better. We should do better, these are people who built this country. We need to show more empathy towards them. There has to be something better for our healthcare system – more time to be spent with people, I feel like I am rushed – it’s like working on an assembly line seeing one client after another.”
Yasmin Vanos, personal support worker in Cambridge
“Some PSWs I know have left to go work in factories, because their hours are more normal, they don’t have to work holidays or weekends, and they can go home to their families in the evening. PSWs working in home care in the community don’t even get paid breaks, we don’t get paid for travel time or paid for the wear and tear on our cars. We need full-time work and not to have to worry about losing benefits, and there needs to be more support in place and more training. And we need more than 10 days of vacation - we work hard and we get burnt out, we should at least get two weeks. And we need better pay than we are getting. Whenever the premier gets up on TV and talks about PSWs and the $3 pay increase, we the PSWs who work in the community are left wondering if it would apply to us because he only mentions long term care and nursing home and we feel he doesn't include us".
Currently the Ontario government directly budgets $4.6 billion for long-term care and another $3.2 billion for home care. An estimated $645 million is spent in community supports and it is estimated another $375 million is spent caring for seniors in hospital beds while they wait for home care or long-term care. That is a total of $9 billion dollars.
The NDP plan includes record investment into better care and better living. The total cost of the plan is $750 million per year in each of eight years for one-time capital investments; plus $3 billion in annual operations costs, which represents a 30 per cent increase to the $9 billion currently spent annually for home and long-term care, which will be phased in with annual increases over six years.
The NDP plan includes:
1. Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer
Ending the for-profit, understaffed patchwork of home care companies that make seniors wait and fail to address the inequities. This includes bringing the system into the public and non-profit sectors over eight years, as well as new provincial standards for home care services, and culturally-appropriate resources, training and job-matching
2. Making all long-term care public and not-for-profit
Ending greedy profit-making at the expense of quality of care. Horwath is committing to phase out for-profit operators within eight years, and increasing financial reporting, transparency and accountability during the transition period.
3. Building small, modern, family-like homes
The gloom of being warehoused in institution-like facilities is over. An NDP government will immediately start building small nursing homes that actually feel like home. Based on best practices from around the world, the NDP will build smaller living spaces shared by groups of six to 10 people. In a small town, it could look like a typical family home. In bigger cities, it could look more like a neighbourhood of villas.
4. Staffing up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers
Instead of the revolving door of staff run off their feet, the NDP will give personal support workers a permanent wage boost of $5 an hour over their pre-pandemic wages. The NDP will mandate enough staff to guarantee at least 4.1 hours of hands-on care per resident per day, establish a dedicated fund for training personal support workers, and more.
5. Making family caregivers partners
The NDP will treat loved ones like more than just visitors, including creating a provincial Caregiver Benefit Program and ensuring every home has an active family and resident council.
6. Creating culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care
The NDP will make sure seniors feel at home, surrounded by their language and culture, and make sure 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors can always live with Pride. This includes partnering with communities, Indigenous nations and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities to fund community homes, and more.
7. Clearing the wait list
Clearing the 38,000-person wait list that can mean years waiting for a bed, and even longer for a culturally appropriate home. The NDP will create up to 50,000 spaces and eliminate the wait list within eight years.
8. Guaranteeing new and stronger protections
Comprehensive inspections, a Seniors’ Advocate, and more will ensure care never goes downhill again.