Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath plans to end for-profit long-term care and build smaller care homes, if she becomes premier when election time rolls around in 2022.
At an event Friday morning, Horwath outlined the party’s proposed to overhaul to the long-term care system in a new model built on small, family-like homes rather than institution-like facilities.
“Starting in 2022, an NDP government will create 50,000 new long-term care spaces, and completely end the wait time for home care and long-term care,” she told reporters, according to a video on her Facebook page.
“And within eight years we will make the entire system public and not-for-profit.”
The eight-year plan would see all facilities being transitioned away from private for-profit facilities into a public model of smaller homes.
Horwath wants to build small communities that “feel like home,” she said, with eight to ten residents getting four hours a day of one-on-one care.
The plan would cost $3 billion a year in operating costs, after spending $750 million per year over the eight years transitioning starting in 2022, according to a statement announcing the plan.
Horwath’s announcement comes after the Ontario Patient Ombudsman, Cathy Fooks, issued a report summarizing complaints made from March 1 to June 30 about long-term care, regarding quality of care, visitation, and safety of staff and residents of care homes during the pandemic.
“Complaints about long-term care homes to Patient Ombudsman increased by over 370% when compared to the same period last year,” the report said.
“The issues that Patient Ombudsman heard about most frequently were: 1) visitation, 2) infection prevention and control, 3) communication, 4) quality of care, 5) staffing, 6) discharges and transfers, 7) testing, 8) access to treatment, 9) personal protective equipment, and 10) delays in care.”
The reported noted that over 1,800 deaths from COVID-19 occurred in long-term care homes in the province.
Fooks made several recommendations to the Ontario government, health sector organizations, and healthcare system to help improve Ontario’s response to the second wave of COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford said in August that the province will build a new long-term care homes for Humber River Hospital’s Finch site, which should be completed within months, not years.
“As Premier, I made a commitment. We are building 30,000 long-term care beds over the next decade,” he said.
Ford said his government plans to spend $1.75 billion over the next five years on long-term care homes.