Candidates weigh in on the need for more long-term care beds and supports for the elderly


Parry Sound-Muskoka has a higher number of seniors living here than the provincial average and as more people retire, especially to this area, the ability to provide adequate services for an aging population has become a growing concern.

The issue was raised at Thursday’s all-candidates meeting. Here’s what the candidates had to say when the moderator, Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce General Manager Kelly Haywood, posed a question about the issue forwarded by one of the event sponsors.

Incumbent MPP and PC candidate Norm Miller said his government has committed to adding 30,000 new long-term care beds to the system over 10 years. “There’s 32,000 people on the waitlist for long-term care beds across the province and this is having a real effect on creating hallway health care in our hospitals across the province,” said Miller, referring to people not being able to leave the hospital to receive care elsewhere due to a shortage of long-term care beds. “I think we need to learn from our frontline people… and learn how to make things better.” He said he had recently spoken to someone who was a PSW for many years and she was talking about the amount of paperwork involved. “It’s important to have records but if you’re spending all your time doing record keeping, that’s taking away from the time that’s really important, which is looking out for the people, the clients, the people in the long-term care home.”

Liberal Candidate Brenda Rhodes said her government also has a 10-year-plan that is going to produce 30,000 more long-term care beds. She also said the Liberals would provide funding to increase the amount of time nurses spend with each patient in long-term care homes to an average of four hours per day.  Rhodes also said there is a subsidy that will be given to seniors to help with things like snow removal and things like retrofits to their home, with the aim of “just keeping them in their homes and safe longer.”

NDP candidate Erin Horvath said her party would create 40,000 more long-term care beds in the next ten years and 15,000 of those will be created in the next five years. She also said her party would invest $300 million to $320 million annually to support additional beds. She spoke of the ability to keep couples entering the long-term care system together. “That should be a basic right so this is something that we’re standing for.”  She also said her party has promised to inject 75 million into hospice care.

Horvath said in addition to having long-term care beds, the ability for seniors to stay in their home is missing. “The NDP is introducing allowance for the deferral of taxes until a home is sold and that means you don’t have to choose between staying in your home or not. They’re doing this in BC and finding that people still do have money to pass on to their family,” she said.

“For long-term care beds and personal support workers, clearly this is an area that needs funding,” said Green candidate Matt Richter. “Health care funding occupies approximately half of our budget, so we need to get our spending correct so that we can be using our tax dollars and justifying how we can use those to honour these long-term beds and that’s something that needs to consistently be put out there, how are we going to pay for this.”

Richter added, “we can all have glowing accolades as to what we’re going to do and how many beds we can promise… we must recognize that over the last 11 years, since I entered politics, this is an issue that has not gone away. So we can promise all we want but unless we’re going to come up with realistic spending plans and ways that we can fund long-term beds, then we’re going to be here four years from now.”

He spoke of the need to “truly get at the core of the problem and look at how our money can be better invested. When we look at disease prevention and health promotion and the amount of money that the Royal Vic hospital health stat said that that could save over a 10-year period—they’re looking at well over 15 billion dollars.”

Independent candidate Jeff Mole said the situation in health care will only get worse due to an aging population. “I would argue that taxpayers need to find better ways to save money elsewhere to fund our growing need.” He said he’s hoping to be elected because he has policies that will save taxpayers “hundreds of billions of dollars that are being wasted through private profit and exporting to other jurisdictions.” Mole said it is in the riding’s interest to elect an independent candidate. “I can work with whichever party forms government.”

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  1. I have a question for Erin Horvath. I would like to know her position on the South Muskoka and the Huntsville hospital issue.

    • Hello Lynne, The NDP has taken a strong stand in favor of local hospitals and rural health care and has committed to addressing the funding gap that is threatening them. There will be an immediate increase of 5.3% to hospital funding and 19 billion invested into new facilities, repairs and upgrades. Additionally, the NDP will stop further layoff of nurses and front line health care workers so the hospitals have the staff they need. Personally, I am very much in support of two hospitals and I am so pleased the party platform stands with me on this issue. I have had several people tell me stories of loved ones that would no longer be living if their hospital was located farther from them. In terms of community, there is no doubt that hospitals (along with schools, recreation centres and libraries) are at the heart of community and when the lights go out a part of the community goes with it. Thanks for the question. If you would like to discuss further please feel free to email me at [email protected]

  2. Susan Vtech on

    Promises, promises, their a dime a dozen.
    All four parties will say anything to be elected.
    Once elected we have a dictatorship that only listens to party lines and the rich.
    Then the middle class and the poor have to pay for all these promises.
    My favourite soap opera is called “as the stomach turns” Lol.
    Yes, to vote, but for whom?

  3. One of the ways to help the medical and hospital deficits is to implement an income-geared user pay system, whereby families that have an income of less than $xxx pay nothing, families between $xx and $yy pay $15 – 25 / visit etc. Families over $200,000 gross income maybe pay the first $$250 / patient / visit of cost. There are a lot of us who can’t pay a portion of each visit. So they/we would be exempt.
    Then there are many Ontario families that are in the top 25% upper echelon of income and pay nothing more for the standard medical services they receive compared to a family earning less than 50,000. Yes, this is a 2-tier ( or multi-tier health system), but it would inject $100’s of millions into the health ministry budget.
    Has the Ministry of Health figured out if the average pay / use fee was $10 – what would it generate? Would it be a real hardship for those of us that can afford it?

    I’m sure there are politicians who are nixing this because a policy like this would kill their chances of been elected. We need real financial numbers not magical finances.

    • Your plan would just propel the moving of individuals and businesses out of the province. Many of the wealthy already go outside the province (mainly to the U.S. but there is also “medical tourism” that has started to become a thing). You will not be able to convince them that they should pay more for a system they don’t even use. Many of them will leave and take their businesses with them (and that means a loss of jobs). We need ALL of our people to solve the problems which the future will bring. Further polarization will only exacerbate our present situation. Contrary to what our present Liberal government has been saying, “diversity” is NOT strength when it comes with widely divergent opinions about the way forward. Our present hugely inflated governmental structures have a self-interest in promoting more of the same but we the taxpayers who must support them need to call a halt to the ridiculous expansion. During the nearly fifteen years of Liberal rule, the provincial debt has tripled and we have lost 300,000 private sector manufacturing jobs. Of course, we have hired 300,000 more Ontario government employees. THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE. Bankruptcy or steeply increasing taxes is waiting in the wings. There is no free lunch. Every action invites a reaction.

  4. Why is no one talking about the NDP plan to make Ontario into a “sanctuary province” and how that will affect healthcare in Ontario? Ontario is much less wealthy than California and radical programs like becoming a “sanctuary state” has made California into an insolvent mess–especially southern California where most of the state’s 11 million illegal immigrants reside and put a huge burden on healthcare (as well as educational institutions). Californians are, unfortunately, waking up too late to the realities of their situation:

    There are many individuals and businesses who are now planning to leave California because of their radical government’s policies–some of which are the “sanctuary” policies. Why does the NDP want to lose many Ontario residents to other provinces? But maybe there is method to their madness–perhaps they WANT conservatives to leave Ontario? That is extremely short-sighted of course. It may help them to win a few elections but, in the long run, conservative voices are needed to keep Ontario from running off a cliff.

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