Toronto ON, March 26 — CanAge, Canada’s National Seniors Advocacy Organization, is applauding the significant investments committed to long-term care in Nova Scotia’s newly announced 2021 budget while cautioning that critical funding gaps persist that threaten the lives and well-being of older people in the province.
“There are some real wins here for vulnerable older Nova Scotians,” notes Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. “The increased funding commitments to improve long-term care are as commendable as they are critically important. Unfortunately, protecting all seniors in the province isn’t the one-size-fits-all solution—there are multiple issues requiring the same degree of government action.”
Among the positive outcomes for seniors in the budget are commitments to:
- Invest $1.02B in long-term care (a notable increase from the previous budget), including $8.6 million for the first year of the multi-year Long Term Care Infrastructure Renewal Plan to replace or significantly renovate seven nursing homes and add more than 230 beds across the province by 2025.
- Increase the Property Tax Rebate for Seniors program, which helps low-income seniors with the cost of municipal residential property taxes, by $1.1 million.
- Invest $64.2 million in personal protective equipment
- Invest $11.3 million to support nurses and additional cleaning requirements for Infection Prevention and Control
However, Tamblyn Watts points to several key considerations missing from the province’s plan, including necessary action to:
- Create a provincial integrated health and human resources staffing strategy across home care and LTC. Provide educational grants and paid training incentives.
- Significantly invest in Home Care (Care at Home) as the primary provincial model of seniors’ care since so many Nova Scotians are aging at home.
- Invest in high-speed internet in rural and underserved communities, and subsidize connectivity for those in need.
Important to note is that the Government of Nova Scotia recently received a low grade of D- in a groundbreaking new report: ‘Adult Vaccination in Canada – Cross-Country Report Card 2021’—the first report of its kind in Canada. The report, published by CanAge earlier this year, used an unbiased set of criteria to assign each province and territory a letter grade on how well it protects their older residents from preventable illnesses like the flu, shingles, and pneumonia. CanAge notes serious gaps in vaccine funding, ease of access, and public awareness in the province.
“The Government of Nova Scotia needs to make the serious and urgent investment to ensure all older people in the province have access to the best-in-class vaccinations against the flu, shingles, and pneumonia,” notes Tamblyn Watts. “This was a glaring omission in this new budget and the lives of older Nova Scotians quite literally depend on it.”
In 2020, CanAge released a comprehensive policy platform: ‘VOICES: A Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada’, which makes over 130 evidence-based recommendations in advancing the rights and well-being of older Canadians.
CanAge is Canada’s national seniors’ advocacy organization that works to advance the rights and well-being of Canadians as we age. We work collaboratively with corporations, nonprofits, the media, and governments to amplify seniors’ issues, influence policy, and effect change. To learn more, visit www.canage.ca.
Lisa Hartford, ABC
Communications Director, CanAge