Funding for long-term care needed before second wave of COVID-19: advocates

With an uptick in new cases of COVID-19 in Canada sparking concerns about a second wave of the illness, advocates for seniors in long-term care say more federal support must start flowing immediately to ensure elders do not again become the primary casualties.

The Canadian Association for Long Term Care says the sector has long fallen through the cracks and that this lack of support helped create the conditions that led to widespread outbreaks and deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes across Canada.

Now that the pandemic has laid bare the fragility of the long-term care system, association chair Jodi Hall says the Liberals have to dedicate more infrastructure dollars to nursing homes.

She says allowing nursing homes to access funds through the national housing strategy is one simple solution that could help money flow more quickly to renovate aging homes, some with four beds to a room.

The association is also pushing for a pan-Canadian health human-resources strategy to address the rising challenge of attracting and retaining workers in the seniors sector.

The federal government has committed some emergency aid to help long-term care homes as part of the $19-billion “Safe Restart Agreement” reached with the provinces last week, including money for testing and personal protective equipment.

But Donna Dunkin, CEO of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, says the amounts for nursing homes fall far short of the immediate emergency needs of homes across the country.

She also says this money will do nothing to address systemic and chronic underfunding of the sector and is calling on Ottawa and the provinces and territories to commit to more long-term funding.

(Canadian Press)

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