The Leader of the province’s official opposition, NDP’s Andrea Horwath, was in North Bay (virtually) this morning. 

Over a Zoom meeting, she shared that starting in 2022, she will end the wait for home and long-term care by creating 50,000 new long-term care spaces. She says that within eight years, her party will make the entire system public and not-for-profit. 

She says that if she becomes premier, years of underfunding, short-changing and trying to save a buck at the expense of seniors, will be over. 

“Thousands of families have been devastated by the death of a loved one in long-term care,” said Horwath. “We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave. But we know the problems didn’t start with COVID-19 — they go back decades, through years of Liberal and Conservative governments shortchanging our parents and grandparents.”

She announced her plan last week for an overhaul of home care and long-term care in a new model built on small, family-like homes rather than institution-like facilities. 

The plan represents a record investment into the sector, including $750 million per year for capital expenses, as well as a 30 percent ramp-up in the operating budget, reaching $3 billion per year by 2028. 

Horwath’s plan also commits to better paid and trained full-time staff, so every resident will be guaranteed at least four hours of hands-on care each day. 

The call also featured Timiskaming Cochrane MPP Jon Vanthof, and local resident Ann McIntyre, whose husband has MS and lives in a long-term care home. 

“We have all heard the comment from family or friends ‘Please do not put me in a home.’,” said McIntyre. “It is only after my long experience with long-term care with my mother and now my husband, that I have realized the true magnitude of this comment. None of us would want to end our lives ‘there’ given the inadequacies of the system. This is in spite of all the wonderful efforts of staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the inadequacies of the system even more. Now is the time for action by everyone.”

McIntyre said in the meeting that her husband was a teacher and an artist, and now relies totally on staff and herself. She commended the efforts of administration and staff, but said with the number of personal support workers working short staff, the impact on the residents is evident. 

“Things are forgotten or left out completely. Workers are rushed and communication is difficult. I’ve found myself going in more and more to feed my husband and care for his needs.” she said. 

McIntyre said that she visits her husband at least once a day, sometimes twice. During the early months of the pandemic, she went months without being able to see him. 

“He lost 37 lbs, and his desire to do anything. I’ve seen falls, crying, outbursts yelling and altercations. All of which could have been avoided with sufficient staff. […] These are not just old people. They’re valued members of our society. They deserve better.”

The NDP’s plan includes: 

Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer

Making all long-term care public and not-for-profit

Building small, modern, family-like homes

Staffing up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers

Making family caregivers partners

Creating culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care

Clearing the wait list

Guaranteeing new and stronger protections