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New ON Long-term Care Legislation is promising, but vague in important areas

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CanAge, Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization, is warning that while today’s newly announced long-term care legislation in Ontario takes several steps forward in critical areas for care in homes, it lacks clarity on many important details. 

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips introduced many long-awaited changes. This legislation embeds the roadmap toward ensuring four hours of care for residents: a long-sought after goal. It also emphasizes the role of essential caregivers, establishes harsher financial penalties for negligent home operators, and gives the ability for the Ministry to suspend the license of negligent homes while keeping them open: all key wins for seniors. But the lack of mention of person-centered care and clarity around how exactly these moves will play out in the real world remains cause for caution.

“This new legislation lays a strong foundation for transformation, but the devil is in the details,” says Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. “Many of the promises made by Minister Phillips for real change are said to be in the regulations. But getting the right regulations in place in a timely manner will be the real challenge.”

“The whole long-term care system needs an overhaul,” she continues. “That is not what this legislation does. However, it does take important steps to move on long-neglected issues like hours of care, and provides a clear metric to hold the government accountable for that implementation. This legislation is the first real move towards improving the quality of care we’ve seen by this government, but it’s a long road ahead to transform the system.” 

CanAge has been advocating for major changes to long-term care in the province of Ontario, including increased staffing levels with the necessary mix of skills to care for residents with increasingly complex needs, improved infection and prevention controls, critical facilities updates and a new focus on providing “person-centred care”.

“Even the best laid plans can fall apart in execution,” warns Tamblyn Watts. “More inspectors doesn’t mean inspections will happen. Penalties for negligent homes already exist, but don’t get handed out often enough. The Ministry will have to work closely with residents, family and the sector for a clear roadmap of how this legislation will translate to better care for Ontario’s seniors.”

CanAge is committed to working on these new regulations, with the Ministry of Long-term Care, to ensure person-centred transformation of the system.

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Toronto, ON, M5S 1V4

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

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