Do Corporate Profits and Tax Cuts Mean More than Treating our Seniors, in their final years, with Dignity and Respect?
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
The push by citizen group and MPPs from provincial opposition parties for safer conditions for seniors and for those caring for them in Ontario’s long-term care homes continues.
At a July 3rd news conference outside of Grace City Manor – a privately owned, for profit long-term care home in St. Catharines where outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred – a citizens group joined St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates in a call for seniors and staff in LTC homes.
Among their list of concerns is Bill 175, also known as the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act and introduced by the Ford government early this year before COVID-19 cases began their upward curve in Ontario, and disproportionately infected and, in some cases, claimed the lives of seniors in long-term care homes.
“Bill 175 repeals all existing legislation regarding home care public governance and the Patient Bill of Rights. There is nothing in the new bill which will improve services for home care patients,” said Sue Hotte, who organized the July 3rd news conference for the Niagara Health Coalition, a member group of the province-wide Ontario Health Coalition, a citizens organization advocating for access for all to quality public health care.
“This bill,” said Hotte, “allows for greater privatization of home care. Present providers who are mostly for profit will be able to structure; contract and contract out, subcontract the way care will be doled out.”
Stevens and Gates, whose Ontario New Democratic Party has long criticized successive provincial governments for cutting funding for long-term care homes and for being welcome mats for privatizing ever more of them, said the advent of for-profit long-term care homes, where money flows into the pockets of corporate shareholders and not enough goes to carrying for the senior residents, has been no small part of the problem.
Statistics in recent months have shown that in Ontario and elsewhere, there have been higher cases of COVID-19 and more deaths, in long-term care homes that are privately owned, than in those that are publicly owned.
Stevens noted that the privatization of long-term care homes in Ontario began under the Conservative government of Mike Harris – an old friend of current Conservative Premier Doug Ford and now a board member and lobbyist for a private corporation operating a string of long-term care homes in the province.
That was some 20 years ago, and privatization of homes continued, more or less unabated, under the governments of Liberal Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. So did cuts in funding for publicly owned and operated long-term care homes.
Last year, the Ford government cut millions of dollars more for the operation of publicly-funded long-term care homes, and for government inspections of the homes.
Shockingly, there are reports that last year, under the Ford government, the number of government inspections of hundreds of long-term care homes across the province hit an all-time low of NINE inspections for the whole year.
Little surprise then that this spring, an alarming report was leaked to the media by members of the Canadian Armed Forces, assigned to help in Ontario long-term care homes, listing everything from seniors being left in their beds with soiled clothing, with lack of food, and on and on in some of the province’s nursing homes.
This is a disgrace and all of us out here who have placed getting another tax cut ahead of letting a population of our most vulnerable citizens – our seniors – live out their final years in comfort and dignity ought to be ashamed.
Those of us who vote for governments that continue to cut funding for long-term care homes and allow sharks in the private sector to take them over have to take some responsibility for this.
“Bill 175 removes care access and coordination from the LHINS which are a public entity,” added the Niagara Health Coalition’s Sue Hotte.
“It allows for greater privatization of home care. Present providers who are mostly for profit will be able to structure; contract and contract out the way care will be doled out. … It is a recipe for disaster.”
Unfortunately, this bill could be rammed through as soon as this week by a Ford government that holds a majority of seats warmed by MPPs who behave like lemmings – a government that failed to win the popular vote in the last provincial election, yet governs like an autocracy.
God Bless Ontario’s seniors and all other vulnerable populations whose quality of life depends on publicly funded services.
When are we going to get it that defunding public services and throwing them off to private sector agents that, first and foremost, have profit and not the common good in mind, can seriously hurt people.
St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens was recently interview on this issue on Heart Radio CKTB 610AM. To hear the interview, click on – https://www.iheartradio.ca/610cktb/audio/the-ontario-health-coalition-and-family-council-network-will-be-at-garden-city-manor-in-st-catharines-today-1.12880064?mode=Article&fbclid=IwAR2tUZuawSREzDYGxO86mSBBqYjjKdZRwqt3IfaIgYwdofraDhjFCsG_c7w
To watch a recent CBC Marketplace report on Ontario Long-Term Care Homes, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-19-coronavirus-long-term-care-homes-ontario-1.5604009
A FOOTNOTE FROM NIAGARA AT LARGE – We will have more news and commentary on the disgusting conditions in Ontario long-term care homes in the days ahead. Stay tuned.
To read the full 15-page military report, highlighting shocking conditions in at least some of Ontario’s long-term care homes, click on – https://www.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/JTFC-Observations-in-LTCF-in-ON.pdf
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