"Wait and See" Budget for Ontario's Seniors

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - There were very few explicit funding commitments for long term care homes in today's provincial budget, but the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS) will be expecting to see investments to enhance support for homes as details are revealed in the coming weeks.

"Residents coming into long term care homes are older and sicker with more complex care needs than ever before," said Donna Rubin, CEO of OANHSS. "Going into today's Budget, we were looking to hear further about commitments made two years ago to fund new personal support workers (PSWs) and nurses. These positions are desperately needed but we have no sense of how many or if any will roll out this year," added Rubin.

In its 2008-09 Budget, the McGuinty government committed to add 2,500 personal support workers (PSWs) over three years and 2,000 nurses over four years in long term care homes. OANHSS was urging the government to fast track the remaining 1,627 PSWs and 1,380 nurses in 2010-11.

"While we recognize the difficult fiscal situation the government faces, we will be very disappointed if investments to increase staff fall short of the need," said Rubin. "Long term care and community services are integral to our success as a province in addressing the growing challenge of alternate level of care or ALC patients. We are willing to work with the government to increase our capacity to care for seniors coming out of hospitals, but we can't perform this role without adequate staffing and resources," Rubin added.

Through its Emergency Room - Alternative Levels of Care Strategy (ER-ALC), the government is looking to place hospital patients who no longer require the intensity of services provided in acute care settings (i.e. ALC patients) in the community with additional home care or assisted living supports. The expectation is that long term care homes will be in a better position to admit residents with heavier care needs.

OANHSS welcomed the government's continued commitment to its Aging at Home Strategy that supports seniors to live independently in the community.

OANHSS is also expecting to see commitments from the government to annualize the one-time funding provided to homes in 2009 to address increasing service and supply costs, and funding to support homes in managing massive system changes currently underway, including meeting the regulations under the new Long-Term Care Homes Act.

"This is a real 'wait and see' budget for our sector. We will be looking for details on investments to alleviate pressures homes face in caring for existing and future residents," said 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.

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

For further information: For further information: Debbie Humphreys, (W) (905) 851-8821 ext 233, (C) (416) 553-7401

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

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