VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Two-thirds of Canadians would support a federal government takeover of long-term care facilities (LTCF), a new poll from the Angus Reid Institute has found. Currently, LTCFs are under provincial jurisdiction and do not fall under the national standards of the Canada Health Act.
Seniors have been the hardest hit age demographic by the COVID-19 pandemic, as recent estimates from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at Ryerson University in Toronto show that 82 per cent of all coronavirus deaths in Canada have occurred in LTCFs.
While most Canadians would support nationalization of LTCFs, there is already a push in Ottawa for such a move. In a televised interview earlier this month, Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Canada needs to put an end to privatized facilities and establish universal standards for senior care.
“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 National Union of Public and General Employees has also made a request to pull LTCFs under the umbrella of national laws in order to ensure consistent standards. This comes as lawsuits are mounting in response to care provided by LTCFs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that the proposal will be considered once a post-pandemic review takes place.
LTCFs in Ontario and Quebec have been hardest hit. Ontario has registered outbreaks in 280 facilities with approximately 1,500 deaths, while Quebec has 2,000 deaths recorded throughout 270 facilities.
Ontario’s Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said in a statement that an independent commission into the province’s long-term care system will begin in September.
There are currently 400,000 residents living in LTCFs in Canada, representing just over one per cent of the country’s total population.