Long-Term Care Report Advocates Interests of For-Profit Homes at Expense of Residents: “We Will Fight These Changes”, Ontario Health Coalition

TORONTO, Oct. 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Long-Term Care Association released a report today calling for deregulation and a hands-off approach to long-term care staffing, as well as tax giveaways to for-profit long-term care homes, among other measures said the Ontario Health Coalition.

“We are strongly opposed to these changes and we are warning the Ford government that we will mobilize to fight them as necessary,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “Too often, private profit-taking interests run counter to the interests and needs of long-term care residents, families and staff. They want to make as much profit with as few regulations as possible requiring them to provide accountable levels of care. The profit drive takes scarce public funds away from care to increase the value of private assets and profit margins. ”

For decades, family groups, residents’ groups, advocacy groups, the Ontario Health Coalition, unions and health professionals’ and nursing associations representing workers in long-term care have developed a total consensus that includes the following reports:

  1. The Ontario government must bring in a legislated enforceable minimum care standard that would require long-term care home operators to provide 4-hours per resident-per day of nursing care and personal support.
  2. The Ministry must conduct regular unannounced inspections and a have stronger enforcement and compliance regime to protect residents, families and staff alike. We have repeatedly won this only to find the homes – particularly some for-profit operators -- pushing back and reducing the inspections and compliance regime, forcing us to win it all over again when unacceptable conditions in the homes are publicly revealed.
  3. Each long-term care home must have an RN 24/7 on staff. This was deregulated by the Harris government, won again under the McGuinty government, and the OLTCA is again pushing once again to have deregulated.

“Many of the OLCTA’s recommendations”, warned Ms. Mehra, “run counter to the longstanding consensus of the public interest and consumer groups in long-term care. They call on government to let the homes – including for-profit chain corporations – do what they want with staffing and care levels at their own discretion. Dangerously, they want to download care responsibilities to ever lower-priced and less regulated staff even while the acuity of the residents is increasing. This is not in the public interest.”

“The report asks the Ford government to allow the for-profit homes to move their costs into the nursing and personal care funding envelope and out of the envelope from which they can take profit, thereby increasing their profitability while placing more competing items on the funding for front-line care,” noted Ms. Mehra. “The report calls for more public money for renovations and capital costs, even for profit-seeking homes, to increase the value of their private assets, paid for by tax payers. It calls for boosts to the capital funding for the homes that adds to their profitability while siphoning money away from care functions,” added Ms. Mehra. “Despite the huge public subsidies that go to fund and provide profits to for-profit long-term care homes, they are calling for tax exemptions, and reductions of other government charges.”

“The report calls for a cancellation of the government’s hiring of 100 new inspectors, to be replaced by a “risk-based system” that will mean fewer homes receive regular unannounced inspections, directly counter to what the residents’ and families’ advocates and the Ontario Health Coalition have been advocating for decades,” she noted.

“These recommendations are, on the whole, outrageously self-interested and contrary to the public interest,” concluded Ms. Mehra. “The Ontario government just spent millions on the Wettlaufer long-term care inquiry in which the testimony of countless witnesses underlines the need for a regulated care standard, and improved staffing, and a strong inspections and enforcement regime.”

For more information:  Dana Boettger, Communications Director 416-441-2502 office, Natalie Mehra, Executive Director (416) 230-6402 mobile.