By Lindsey Park/Durham MPP
Our parents, grandparents and their friends are the ones who built our great nation that in so many ways is the envy of the world.
Now it’s our time to build for them – to build the care system that meets their needs as they age.
That care system must include a robust long-term care sector. We have some serious work ahead to get there. The long-term care sector saw only 611 new beds built across the province between 2011 and 2018. This left the Central East LHIN, including Durham Region, with the longest wait times in the province. The median wait time is 257 days for admission. Also, many of our long-term care homes were constructed before 1970 and are in dire need of renovation.
Governments of all stripes have tried for two decades to build long-term care but have failed. They have rebranded the same financial models repeatedly without significant results.
The good news is that our government is taking historic steps to fix this. Last week, Premier Ford and Minister Fullerton announced a new modernized funding model for the building of new long-term care homes and bringing older homes up to modern standards.
Designed around the specific needs of different regional markets, this model incentivizes long-term care operators to invest in building and renovating homes across Ontario. This model increases upfront funding and covers key development charges, putting our government’s historic $1.75 billion investment into long-term care capacity to work.
The model is tailored to meet specific community needs. For example, where the availability and affordability of land might be a barrier to development, operators will receive what they need to secure the loans and real estate they need to get building. We are fortunate that the Rekker family recently donated land for the new Glen Hill Strathaven in Clarington. Not every community is so fortunate.
A number of long-term care projects are underway in our own backyard. The Ministry of Long-Term Care is helping fund the development of 224 beds at the new Glen Hill Strathaven, as well as the development of 53 new beds and redevelopment of 107 beds in Scugog.
There is more work to do, but this modernized funding model is one big step towards repairing the cracks in our aging long-term care system. This will help kick start construction of new homes and build the care system our seniors deserve.