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News Release

Ontario Budget Disappointing
for Long Term Care

March 23, 2006 -- For Immediate Release

Toronto - The Ontario budget did not deliver the increased funding needed to make any significant improvements in long term care.

"We're disappointed and, quite frankly, very frustrated," said Donna Rubin, CEO of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS). "With the province recording higher-than-anticipated tax revenues, we expected the government to make good on its commitment to revolutionize long term care."

While the budget identifies $155 million for long term care, the bulk of this is to maintain existing programs. There appears to be little new funding to improve direct care and services for the 75,500 residents currently living in long term care homes.

"The fact remains that funding to provide the level of care needed by residents remains woefully inadequate," said Rubin.

Over the last three budgets, the Liberal government has raised the amount of annual funding going directly to care by about $2,000 per resident. This compares to a promised increase of $6,000 - a promise made by the Liberals during the last provincial election.

"The Liberals told us that seniors' issues, and long term care in particular, were priorities. Why then wasn't this an important item in the budget?" Rubin asked.

OANHSS estimates that the funding shortfall in the sector is now $450 million a year. At current funding levels, the sector will be unable to hire the additional 2,000 staff (including 600 nurses) promised by the Ontario government. "In fact, most homes will have difficulty keeping the staff they hired last year," stated Rubin.

Unless the funding shortfall is addressed, the level of care will continue to be inadequate. For example:

  • Residents now receive about 2 hours of nursing and personal care over a 24-hour period. OANHSS believes that this level is unacceptable and should be closer to at least 3 hours.
  • Homes are not able to provide anywhere near the level of rehabilitation and restorative care that residents need.
  • Only a small fraction of residents currently receive professional mental health services, even though 65 per cent have Alzheimer disease or some other form of dementia.

Other groups and organizations across the province have also been calling on Queen's Park to keep its $6,000 promise. These have included:

  • municipal governments such as: the regions of York, Peel, and Waterloo; the cities of North Bay and Windsor; and the counties of Brant, Dufferin, Essex, Frontenac, Grey, Lambton, Renfrew, and Simcoe
  • the governing bodies of many charitable long term care homes
  • a number of seniors groups, including: Canadian Pensioners Concerned, Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities, Ontario Association of Residents' Councils, Ontario Society (Coalition) of Senior Citizens' Organizations, and The United Senior Citizens of Ontario Inc. (see attachment)

OANHSS is waiting to hear details of the investment announced for community services and supportive housing.

OANHSS is the provincial association representing not-for-profit providers of long term care, services and housing for seniors. Members include municipal and charitable long term care homes, non-profit nursing homes, seniors' housing projects and community service agencies. Member organizations operate over 26,000 long term care beds and over 5,000 seniors' housing units across the province.

-30-

For more information:

Debbie Humphreys Steve Williams
OANHSS PR POST
cell: 416-435-7188 cell: 416-451-6400

QUOTES FROM SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS

Canadian Pensioners Concerned
"We must ensure that there is a continuum of quality care available to older persons, and this includes long term care for the frail elderly. We add our voice to those who are demanding that the provincial government keep its promise."
Don Bellamy, President

Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities
"The government needs to re-think its priorities. If limited resources demand that choices be made, we'd rather see more of that money going to direct care for residents, and less to systems and processes."
Lois Dent, President

Ontario Association of Residents' Councils
"Residents across Ontario, through their Residents' Councils, have expressed concern about the funding for the level of care they need for quality of life in their homes. The top priority for extra funding must be, in their view, direct care of residents."
Pat Prentice, Executive Director (Interim)

Ontario Society (Coalition) of Senior Citizens' Organizations
"We are dedicated to improving the quality of life for Ontario's seniors, and we feel that seniors in long term care homes are not being cared for as they need and deserve. With the expected surplus, surely additional funding for long-term care homes should be a priority."
Ethel Meade, Co-Chair

The United Senior Citizens of Ontario Inc.
"This issue involves all of us. All of us, someday, will be affected either directly or through a family member or friend. All of us better start caring about the care in these homes and demanding more of government."
Judith Muzzi, President

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