Canada must put an end to privately owned long-term care homes: Singh

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OTTAWA -- In light of numerous COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term homes across the country, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Canada should put an end to privatized facilities and establish a universal framework for seniors care.

In an interview on CTV’s Question Period airing Sunday, Singh says the government must look to bring long-term care under the Canada Health Act and make it federally regulated, while doing away with the private system all together.

"I think we need to end them, I think there’s no question about it given the results we’re seeing, the evidence we’re seeing that some of the worst conditions that seniors are in and some of the highest deaths have happened in the for-profit long-term care homes," said Singh.

"Profit should not be the motive when it comes to how we care for our seniors."

According to a recent report by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at Ryerson University in Toronto, over 3,300 deaths have occurred in long-term care homes due to COVID-19, accounting for 82 per cent of the total fatalities in Canada.

With no standardized long-term care system in Canada, there’s been significant discrepancy in how these homes have fared through the pandemic.

Services are currently delivered through a patchwork system of not-for-profit and for-profit providers and delivered through a mix of publicly-funded programs, which can be reinforced by private services, and unpaid caregivers, states the NIA in a report about the future cost of long-term care in Canada.

Singh says the impact of COVID-19 on this demographic has made the need for a consistent and equitable framework for seniors all the more relevant.

"We absolutely need to look at developing a national standard, a care guarantee and then use the Canada Health Act to bring it into the public realm, it’s got to be public and it’s got to be high quality," said Singh.

"The for-profit system has failed and long-term care homes in general have failed seniors and we need to do a lot better."