Ottawa – February 25, 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the glaring issues we face in Canada, including years of inaction and neglect in long-term care.
Over 70% of COVID-19 deaths in Canada have occurred in long-term care facilities, with the majority of those taking place in for-profit homes. Decades of cuts, privatization and under-funding has led to thousands of lives lost across the system.
Government support for long-term care in Canada lags other countries, as data from the OECD reports, member nations spend on average 1.7 per cent of GDP on long-term care – higher than the 1.3 per cent Canada spends. Meanwhile, countries like the Netherlands spend upwards of 3.7 per cent of GDP on long-term care for citizens.
We need to do a better job ensuring our elderly and disabled live in dignity, and that starts by removing profit-making from long-term care. For-profit homes operate to secure their bottom-line using management practices centered around making money rather than providing care. These practices include paying the lowest possible wages, hiring on-call, part-time and casual employees instead of full-time workers.
These for-profit operators have taken advantage of government programs designed to help workers through the pandemic. In the first three quarters of 2020 the three largest for-profit operators received over $138.5 million in provincial pandemic pay for front-line staff, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and other pandemic funding. At the same time these operators paid nearly $171 million in dividends to shareholders.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has introduced a plan to fix this broken system by implementing a Care Guarantee:
- A commitment to our seniors and the disabled that they will have safe and dignified care both at home and in care homes;
- A commitment to families that their loved ones receive the care they deserve, with the enforcement of appropriate levels of care and staff ratios;
- A commitment to workers that they will get a living wage, benefits and the safe and secure work environment they deserve.
It is time to take profit out of long-term care and this starts by making a Care Guarantee.