There’s something very wrong with long-term care. We found out the hard way when COVID-19 hit. We know some of the causes – poor infection control, not enough staff and equipment, inadequate training and support. But there’s a reason all that was allowed to happen – the lack of effective standards for long-term care.
Across Canada, long-term care standards are inconsistent and often weak. Even worse, they aren’t enforced. Money for long-term care goes from the federal government to the provinces and territories, but with minimal control over how they use it. Older Canadians are paying a high price for systems that don’t work.
Now all parties are promising to spend more on long-term care services – more personal support workers, new beds, and more money for home and community care. But how do we know anything will change? And what will we do if it doesn’t? We, the public, depend on our elected officials. National standards would stop any province or territory from tolerating (or even rewarding) a provider that delivers unacceptable or unsafe care. The Health Standards Organization has formed a committee to develop standards for safe, reliable, and high quality long-term care and a healthy and competent workforce. All the right people are involved – residents, family members, frontline workers, professionals, and other experts. The committee is concentrating on residential long-term care services. What has to follow is for the recommendations to become law. Then they also need to be applied to home and community care.
Care Watch calls on our federal representatives to show leadership by:
- Setting clear national standards for services to older Canadians in homes and residential settings
- Monitoring and judging how well provinces and territories meet those standards
- Reporting results to the public
- Imposing consequences, including withholding funding, when standards aren’t met
Provinces and territories can set standards for specific services, but Canada’s government must lead the way.
What can you do about national long-term care standards? Long-term care relies on public money. As a member of the public, you have a right to know how your money is used. To start with, you can ask candidates:
- How will your party lead in establishing national long-term care standards? What will you personally do to make that happen?
- How will you enforce those standards? Will meeting standards be a condition of funding?
- How will you insist provinces and territories report on how they use the funds?
To find your riding, contact Elections Canada. Enter your postal code in the Voter Information Service box to find your federal electoral district. Under Voter Registration Service, register or update your voting information.
Ask, think, and then vote!