August 3rd, 2017

NDP Leader says seniors deserve full investigation into the crisis in long-term care

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined local long-term care nurse practitioner Lynne Withers this morning to discuss the ongoing crisis in senior’s long-term care in Ontario. Horwath has called for a broad, two-part inquiry into seniors care across the province, stemming from the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, and expanding to include an investigation into staffing levels, funding and safety conditions in seniors care homes across the province and says she is concerned that the inquiry announced recently by the Wynne Liberals fails to specify these key issues that must be included in the inquiry’s mandate in order for it to be effective.

“Seniors in Sarnia can wait years to get into a seniors care home, and once they find a room many aren’t getting the care they need. Lynne works in a long-term care home in the area, and the conditions she described to me this morning are heartbreaking, and sound similar to stories I've heard all over the province” said Horwath. 

“I've heard of residents left in bed for 18 hours at a time, and staff so run off their feet, residents can't get basic help they need to bathe and change their clothes regularly, or get to the bathroom on time. Our loved ones deserve care that protects their safety, health and their dignity. This inquiry needs to get to the bottom of the crisis, and the only way to do that is with a broad based inquiry, looking into the Wettlaufer murders must be the first step, but this inquiry can’t stop there.”

Horwath has outlined her plans for a two-phase public inquiry, and said if Kathleen Wynne isn’t prepared to investigate the broader, systemic problems in long-term care, a New Democrat government would expand the inquiry after the coming provincial election.

Horwath has been in communities throughout the province to hear from families and health care workers about their experience with long-term seniors care. She hosted roundtable conversations last month in Hamilton, Windsor, London and Woodstock.

'I want to thank Andrea for coming to Sarnia today to start shining a light on the extreme pressures we face in so many long term care homes in this province.  A province wide inquiry is necessary to find the roots of this crisis and make fundamental changes to ensure nurses, healthcare and personal support workers can provide the care residents need,” said Ms. Withers. “However, an inquiry by itself isn't enough, we need political commitment so that when issues are identified, there will be measures put in place to implement positive change.'

The last Conservative government made deep cuts to the healthcare programs and facilities that Ontarians depend on, and Kathleen Wynne did even more damage by continuing a program of cuts and underfunding. Together, the Liberal and Conservative parties have undermined the care seniors depend on, and refused to take action to fix it. 

“Ontarians expect this public inquiry to examine the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, but we cannot stop there.  Seniors and their loved ones need a full investigation into the long-standing systemic problems that have thrown Long Term Care into crisis, and caused hardship for families across the province,” said Horwath. “It is not enough for this inquiry to examine whether the Long Term Care Actis being followed. We already know that seniors deserve to have their safety, health and dignity assured in long-term care.  If Kathleen Wynne won’t do the right thing here, and NDP government will.”