The COVID-19 pandemic has put Canada’s long-term care system in the spotlight, exposing its many failures and vulnerabilities. Years of letting private profiteers take over care resulted in catastrophic outcomes for residents and workers in the homes. Below are questions on long-term care that we urge you to ask your local candidates.
1) What is your position on removing profit from long-term care?
The tragic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic plainly exposed what many have long been saying: profits and long-term care don’t mix. Across the country, for-profit long-term care (LTC) homes saw higher rates of deaths and outbreaks, as LTC profiteers and our governments looked the other way.
Even as the pandemic raged on, and death rates inside the homes continued to soar, for-profit LTC operators continued to prosper – paying out tens of millions of dollars in dividends to investors and boosting executive bonuses.
These corporations have for too long put profits and shareholder value before quality care – and they’ve done so with impunity. The only fix for ensuring quality and accountable long-term care is the political will to take profits out of the system.
2) Will you commit to working towards federally-regulated and enforceable national standards for long-term care?
In the absence of federal leadership, long-term care has been a patchwork of public and private homes, governed by regulations that differ from province to province.
We urgently need federally-regulated and enforceable standards that require better care, improved staffing levels, meaningful accountability, and the removal of profit from care. Any funding for LTCs should be contingent on meeting these national standards. The idea is popular: 86% of Canadians have said they support bringing LTC under federal administration.
The federal government promised last year to set new national standards but has since passed that work on to the private accreditation industry instead. Accreditation is no substitute for national standards: it’s voluntary, unregulated, and non-enforceable. Politicians need to commit to real change in long-term care!