COVID- 19 exposes vulnerabilities of Ontario’s home and community care for seniors

We have all seen, heard of, or experienced the passing of a loved one in a seniors’ care home. Most of us are nauseated by the stark report from our armed forces on the conditions in five nursing homes, which the COVID-19 pandemic exposed; unfortunately, they are but the tip of the iceberg. It is not surprising that nearly 82% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care homes. For years, we have known about the risks.

Better quality and improvements in home and community care can keep seniors safely in their homes and out of more costly institutions, such as nursing homes and hospitals. But that system is again under threat. The problems we see now are not new, but the pandemic has brought them to the forefront.

Care Watch has been raising concern over the repeal of existing home and community care laws and transferring powers from somewhat accountable government ministers to less accountable private entities. This new legislation – “Bill 175 – Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act 2020” –needs Ontarians’ input before it goes further. We ask that the Ford government pause, debate, and then put viable solutions in place.

The current Bill 175:

  • Greatly reduces public accountability and oversight
  • Lacks consistency, transparency, and audit standards
  • Increases privatization of home care as well as parts of hospital and long-term care
  • Decreases protection for client rights
  • Lacks clear, consistent guidelines on complaints, resolutions, and appeals

Why is the Ford government rushing to implement Bill 175 when it has glaring shortcomings? Are the findings of the LTC Military Report not enough of a wake-up call? Have we lost sight of the value of human life? How large a role is ageism playing?