Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a $1.75 billion investment over the next five years, to kickstart the development of thousands of long-term care beds.
On Wednesday, Ford said that the money will go towards 30,000 of these beds over the next 10 years — there are currently 38,000 people on the waitlist.
“We cannot accept the status quo and thanks to frontline heroes the vast majority of homes have stabilized, but we clearly know the system is broken and the cracks in the system can no longer be ignored,” Ford said.
“We need to tear down and development new homes and we need thousands of long-term care beds. We need action and we need it now.”
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Ford said the first step will be creating 8,000 new long-term care beds and 12,000 redeveloped one, which will be the initial goal of the 30,000 target.
The premier said that the government will redevelop homes to modern design standards, like giving seniors private and semi-private rooms and will also offer the latest medical technology.
“We inherited a broken system. There are 10s of thousands on waitlists for beds.”
Ford also noted that many seniors are denied the comfort of air conditioning (AC) for the summer months which is “unacceptable.”
Therefore, the provincial government is committed to giving AC to homes that don’t have it and is mandating that this service is provided for all new projects and development.
“I am 100% committed to seeing this through. They will no longer suffer through the summer heat.”
The new funding will also go towards creating four new regional categories based on geographic location, each with a targeted home size: large urban, urban, mid-size, and rural.
An increase to the province’s construction funding subsidy (CFS) will be tailored to each of these four categories, enabling the government to address the barriers and needs of different communities.
The subsidy will go towards providing development grants, between 10% and 17% depending on regional category, to cover upfront costs like development charges, land, and other construction expenses.
It will also be assisting small operators in rural communities navigate the high cost of development, while ensuring larger urban centres can secure the loans and real estate they need and increasing funding to incentivize the construction of basic accommodation and continuing top-ups for small and medium sized homes.
According to the province, the previous “one-size-fits-all” funding model has not “spurred” development nor accounted for how regional differences impact land, construction and other development costs.
In May, the Ontario government expedited the launch of an independent, non-partisan commission into Ontario’s long-term care system, which begins in July.
And, at the beginning of July the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) departed from all GTA long-term care homes that they were assigned to help, as many were experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and could not contain the virus spread with their existing resources.
The CAF wrote a report, which alleged behaviour of neglect and unsafe treatment towards the elderly in these facilities.