April 8th, 2020

Horwath calls for provincial plan to support and protect seniors during COVID-19 pandemic

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath believes seniors need more help to protect, support and empower them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ontario’s seniors have spent their lifetimes helping to build our province,” said Horwath. “Now the provincial government needs to do everything in its power to protect our elderly loved ones. In long-term care and in their own homes, there’s more Ontario can do to protect our parents and grandparents, and the province has to do it, now.”

The NDP’s recommendations to protect and support seniors during COVID-19 include:

  • Suspend medication dispensing fees and co-pays for Ontarians 65 and older
  • Ban fee hikes or new fees in long-term care, retirement homes and other settings supporting senior care
  • Crack down on scams looking to defraud seniors
  • Provide $5 million in matching funding to support screening, testing and resources for all senior care settings
  • Provide $20 million to community organizations addressing senior isolation
  • Developing a clear province-wide plan for family visitation at long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals that includes best practices in preventing COVID-19 transmission
  • Actively screen and regularly test all seniors in long-term care, retirement homes, supportive housing and assisted living
  • Create a $5 million fund for more staff, supplies, equipment and infection control for seniors living in supportive and assistive living facilities in Ontario

The COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm in long-term care and home care, arriving as chronic neglect was already leaving seniors in care with low staffing and funding levels. Earlier this week, Horwath presented a suite of solutions to immediately protect seniors in care and those who receive home care services, including:

  • Aggressively recruit home care and long-term care staff
  • Mandate that more staff be scheduled on each shift in each long-term care home
  • Immediately increase salaries for staff to a minimum of $22/hr
  • Assign each staff member to one facility only, and ensure they have full-time hours
  • Standardize visitor policies province-wide
  • Mandate that home care workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) — including gloves and a surgical mask — for every home visit, and mandate long-term care staff wear PPE any time they’re with residents
  • Create a caregiver fund to support families that choose to care for their loved one at home