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Plea for local beds soundly defeated

NDP motion called for 2,000 new long term care beds in Oshawa, Whitby and Scarborough

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

An NDP motion asking the province to commit to creating 2,000 new long-term care beds for Durham Region and Scarborough was soundly defeated at Queen’s Park Monday.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath brought forth the motion asking the government to create the new beds in areas covered by the Central East LHIN.

It was defeated 70 to 39.

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French voted in favour, while Whitby MPP Lorne Coe and Durham MPP Lindsey Park were against the motion.

French called the results “very disappointing and somewhat surprising.”

In arguing against the plan, Oshawa’s MPP says the PCs “didn’t really offer their intent in how they are going to support and invest in long-term care.”

Speaking in opposition against the motion in the Legislature, Coe said he is well aware of the local needs.

However, he called the motion “political gamesmanship,” and pitting municipalities against each other, claims French refuted.

“They admonished us for focusing on the Central East LHIN, but didn’t offer the solution,” French said.

She noted that some local long-term care centres have eight-to-nine year waiting lists, and seniors don’t have the time to wait that long.

“This area has been neglected,” she added.

In fact, Horwath maintains that 20 per cent of the 32,000 Ontarians waiting for a bed in a long-term care home are in the Central East LHIN catchment area, which includes Oshawa, and this area is in “the worst shape across the province.”

However, Coe said no applications for long-term care beds have been received from either Oshawa or Whitby.

Lastly, he criticized a request that all the beds be allocated to non-profit and municipal long-term care homes.

“Demanding that all these beds be operated by not-for-profit will make it more difficult for patients to get all the beds they need,” he said, adding that different models are needed for a successful system.

French said the objections made by Conservative MPPs were “theatre for the sake of theatre.”

“It isn’t about theatre, it isn’t about storytelling.”

Earlier in the day, Horwath and French met with Oshawa couple Steve and Annette Mills at their home.

Steve’s 91-year-old father, Walter, has severe dementia and is currently on the waiting list for five long-term care homes.

Steve says their situation is “critical.”

“He needs care 24/7, and he needs it now. We are in a crisis situation. My wife and I aren’t sleeping because we’re up with Dad all times day and night, and yet we still need to function,” he told The Oshawa Express.

He says his father will not allow him and Annette to be involved with his personal cleanliness and they often have to “come running” when they hear the sensors on their doors going off.

“We need him to be somewhere that is safe. We do our best, but if he really wanted to get out of this house, he could, and he becomes a danger to himself,” he says.

Horwath explained her call for the beds to be allocated to non-profit or municipal long-term care homes.

“People shouldn’t be making profits off those who need long-term care. It’s part of the spectrum of our health care system, and we don’t believe long-term care fits with the profit model of health care,” she says.

During the provincial election, the NDP pledged to create 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years, and 40,000 by 2028.

Speaking on the Mills’ situation, Horwath says they likely “don’t have a moment of peace during the day because their loved ones have such intense needs.”

“And they struggle to see light at the end of the tunnel because there are still hundreds or even thousands of people in front of them on the waiting lists,” she adds.

Coe said addressing long-term care needs in Ontario requires comprehensive planning, adding the NDP motion lacked details.

“We saw what happened to Ontario after 15 years of a Liberal government making empty promises and decisions without a plan. These cities and towns deserve better, and this province deserves better,” he said.

Horwath also took aim at the previous government, blaming them for letting the situation get out of hand.

But she says the time to act is now, as with an aging population the “crisis is only going to get worse.”

She claimed the Conservatives would continue to “feather the pockets of their business friends,” namely for-profit long-term care homes.

By defeating the motion, Horwath said the PCs were “saying [they] don’t care about the thousands of people waiting for long-term care beds.”

Horwath said operators “have to know there is an allocation of beds set aside,” and money set aside in the budget before they’ll make applications.

During his visit with Horwarth, Mills said he had been a lifelong Conservative supporter until the 2018 election.

He said in his view, he hasn’t heard Premier Doug Ford “sincerely say, and express, his concern”, about the situations faced by people like himself.

“I would think it would be more sincere if he actually had a plan to back up when he does reference seniors and the need for homes,” he says.

In October, the Conservatives announced plans to add 6,000 long-term care beds, 570 of which will be allocated to the Central East LHIN.

The announcement is part of a larger promise to add 15,000 beds over five years.