Liberals break promise to 75,000 residents of long term care homes

    TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - With virtually nothing in the provincial budget
for long term care, the McGuinty government will be headed into the next
election without having fulfilled its pledge to the 75,000 seniors who live in
these homes.
    "For long term care, the cupboard is bare," said Donna Rubin, CEO of the
Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS).
    "Unless the Liberals have a sudden conversion on the way to the polls on
October 10, they will have to explain another broken promise - a promise made
to long term care residents and their families across this province."
    During the last election campaign, the Liberals pledged a $6,000 increase
in annual care funding for every long term care resident. But after four
provincial budgets, the funding increase has totaled only about $2,300.
    For the McGuinty government to deliver on its promise, it will have to
inject an additional $277 million into the operating budgets of long term care
homes over the next six months.
    "In the lead up to the last election, the Liberals identified increased
funding for long term care - funding that would go directly to improving the
level of care of residents - as one of their top priorities. Today, they
failed to keep their word. This is a huge disappointment, especially after the
Liberals promised after coming to power that they would lead a revolution in
long term care," stated Rubin.
    While the budget contained $14 million for the hiring of nurses in long
term care, the reality is that with no money to keep up with inflation, homes
will be forced to lay off staff. "Homes have been given about 50 cents a day
more to hire new nurses, but we needed over $2 a day just to keep the ones we
have. We will be laying off three nurses to hire one," said Rubin.
    For years, OANHSS has been urging the province to put more money into the
care and services that directly benefit residents so that some of their most
basic needs are being met in a timely manner. And with increasing public
attention focused on the sector - including the Casa Verde inquest, media
stories about homes and staff being stretched to the limit, growing awareness
about the inadequate funding provided to feed residents (currently $5.46 per
day per resident) - there was an expectation that the Liberal government would
really take action on these issues.
    "We thought they got it, that they understood how impossible the
situation has become," said Rubin. "But their lack of response suggests
    Unable to improve care levels for residents because of inadequate
funding, homes are now facing a further financial squeeze as the Liberal
government moves to enact the Long-Term Care Homes Act. Bill 140 will place a
whole new set of regulatory demands on the sector without providing the
financial means to meet them.
    "This will result in even more staff time being devoted to non-care
functions. And ultimately that means residents end up getting short-changed by
government," Rubin stated.
    Homes are being swamped by increased costs, new regulatory requirements,
and lack of adequate funding. Operating costs are rising - everything from
utility to wage rates are up. Government continues to demand more. Yet funding
falls further behind.
    "Sadly, this budget will mean layoffs and service cuts," noted Rubin.

    OANHSS is the provincial association representing not-for-profit
providers of long term care, services and housing for seniors. Members include
municipal and charitable long term care homes, non-profit nursing homes,
seniors' housing projects and community service agencies. Member organizations
operate over 27,000 long term care beds and over 5,000 seniors' housing units
across the province.

For further information:

For further information: Debbie Humphreys, (416) 553-7401 (cell); Dena
Fehir, (416) 788-8620 (cell); Robert Stephens, (416) 777-0368

Organization Profile

Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS)

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