June is traditionally Pride Month, when we recognize the vastness and diversity of the LGBTQ2S+ community. This year, COVID-19 deprived us of the parades and colourful events celebrating strength and resilience. Despite this strength, however, the LGBTQ2S+ community faces inequities. Care Watch advocates for high quality home and community care for Ontario’s senior citizens, but that’s often not the reality for LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
Bill 175 – the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, 2020 – was passed and received Royal Assent on July 8, 2020. Despite significant recommended changes from a wide variety of stakeholders, Bill 175 was passed with only minor government amendments.
The government claims that the new legislation will make it easier for people to access home and community care in hospital, primary care, or community settings; help people connect with their care providers; and provide more choice for people with high needs to receive care in new community settings. However, Bill 175 did not support these claims.
Be informed. Read our briefing note and our submission to the Standing Committee, and learn how you can engage in further discussion.
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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?
“Extreme Neglect”, “Heart Breaking”, “Gut Wrenching”, “Nauseating”: these responses to the LTC Military Report are, sadly, nothing new to caregivers, families, and seniors’ advocacy groups. We have all seen, heard of, or experienced the passing of a loved one in a seniors’ care home. We are not surprised that nearly 82% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care homes, but the deaths in these homes are merely the tip of the iceberg.
When the provincial government wants to reduce its expenditures, it looks at cutting funding to the Ontario health care system, the largest budget envelope. Ageism then allows, even encourages, us to prioritize younger patients with acute conditions over older folk with increasingly complex chronic conditions.
Instead of wringing our hands in outrage (again), let’s look at alternatives. Better quality and improvements to home and community care can keep seniors safely in their homes and out of more costly institutions, such as nursing homes and hospitals.
In Ontario, care for most seniors is delivered at home and with community-based support. Let’s not be consumed by the flashier statistics (LTC homes) and forget the situation in home and community care. This sector is also suffering, if less dramatically, from some of the same problems as LTC homes – shortages of qualified staff, who endure precarious employment, as well as lack of personal protective equipment and clear infection control guidelines – guidelines much needed given the less than perfect conditions in some homes.
Ontario’s senior citizens need decisive action. We already have more than enough information to correct this sad situation and re-orient long-term care.
What exactly are we waiting for?
The Ford government is pursuing passage of legislation that will significantly affect the home and community care services available to all Ontarians. Care Watch applaudes the government’s goal of modernizing home and community care, but continues to have serious concerns about the proposed legislative changes. Our submission to the Standing Committee on Social Policy calls for clarification of and changes to Bill 175.