Michael Mantha MPP, Algoma–Manitoulin

Government of Ontario

News from the Park - March 1, 2021

Published on March 1, 2021

When I was just a kid, I remember on some special occasions going with my mom to a local bakery.  It was a kid’s dream come true walking in there.  Cookies, chocolates, deserts with sprinkles.  Keep in mind that this was a ‘back in the day’ old fashioned kind where everything, but everything was made on site from scratch.  No mixes and no par baked/frozen products.  I’m sure the clerks had to wipe my nose and forehead prints off the glass display case whenever I went in with Mom. 

Absolutely everything was so delicious….well almost everything I have to admit. 

There was this one particular desert they had all the time.  I don’t know what it was called, but it looked absolutely decadent.  They were these kind of cone-shaped swirls of pink, blue, yellow or green made from egg whites and sugar.  They had had sprinkles or sparkles of some kind on top.  They looked like huge swirls of icing on a plate.  Every time I went in, I could not take my eyes off them and would bug Mom mercilessly as only a kid can

The funny thing is, when I sat down and bit into them, they were just hard or crispy on the outside and hollow on the inside.  They were almost tasteless.  And every time I thought that I was really being given something special, my expectations were crushed and hopes were crushed.  So it is not surprising I can’t recall what the desert was called.

Here in Ontario, unless you are Rip Van Winkle, no one can be unaware of the terrible situation that has come to light about the neglect and lack of quality care that vulnerable Ontarians who live in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  All of us are horrified when we hear more names of vulnerable loved ones are added to a growing list of thousands of fatalities in the centres.  Not only are people dying in LTC facilities because they become infected by the virus, many are sick or dying because of lack of care and attention they need daily.  They sit for hours on end calling our for things as simple as assistance to go to the washroom, hygienic cleaning after sitting in their own faeces and urine for an entire day, assistance to eat or even just get a drink of water. 

The problem boils down to the fact that LTC facilities are not forced to abide by reasonable standards of care and staff/resident ratios.  Ontario does not have enough trained Personal Support Workers (PSWs) working. It did not take long after the onset of the pandemic for this problem to come to light.  When Ontarians learned of the shortage of PSWs in our LTC homes, they were shocked and appalled.  The call went out loud and clear that the provincial government needed to do something to fix the problem -- right away.   

Other provinces had the same problem but took immediate action to remedy it.  In the summer of 2020, before the second wave of COVID-19 hit, British Columbia took immediate action by training and hiring 7,000 staff for long-term care.  Quebec hired and trained 10,000 staff for long-term care.  But the Doug Ford government…. hired and trained virtually none.  Now we are one year into this pandemic and nothing has improved.  Today we know that almost 3900 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in long-term care homes, and most died alone and in pain.  

Doug Ford heard the call from seniors and their families, health care providers and even management and staff at LTC facilities.  Ford promised to take immediate action and form an impenetrable “iron ring” of care around our most vulnerable.  But what is Ford’s plan?  On February 22, 2021, the Ford government announced they were investing $4 million to help train 373 new PSWs.  His plan is to wait until 2025 to have more people trained and hired to work at LTC facilities.  Talk about your delayed action.  I don’t think I’d want my loved ones sitting in any residence waiting for more help  promised three or four years.  They deserve our protection now, not a promise to improve years from now.

When I read the details the government’s announcing that ‘the cavalry is coming’ and help is on the way, all I could picture were those beautiful looking fancy deserts that were disappointing and hollow.  It seems to be a hollow promise and without substance.

The crisis in long-term care has been building over years of Conservative and Liberal privatization, underfunding and cuts.  We can fix this, but we need Ford to stop putting money ahead of seniors’ lives.

We are proposing a bill that would require every long-term care home has enough staff to offer every resident four hours per day of care and attention.  The Ford government has voted against that bill again and again, blocking it again days ago.

The NDP also sought all-party support to give PSWs a $4 per hour immediate and permanent raise, not only to recognize that they’re overworked and underpaid, but also to help recruit and retain staff.  The Ford government also blocked that.

New Democrats have released our platform for long-term care and home care, which makes investment in hiring workers and add 50,000 more beds. These beds would be established in smaller, more home-like settings. Our plan brings the entire system into public and non-profit hands so that for-profit corporations will no longer be able to cut corners to pocket more profit.

The NDP has a real plan that is ready to go now that would make a real difference in people’s lives right away.  Our plan is no tasteless fancy looking offering that is hollow and without substance. 

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters.  You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député