“Let me tell you, my fellow countrymen, that all the signs point this way, that the 20th century shall be the century of Canada and Canadian development.… For the next 100 years, Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come.”
This bold prediction words were spoken by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s seventh Prime Minister in 1907. It’s important to note, however, that the freedoms and prosperity that the people of Ontario enjoy today is not simply a gift that fell from the sky into our laps. Our economic, social and political wealth is a product of the hard work of generations of Ontarians that strove to make the vision of Canada and Ontario a reality. This bounty was a gift paid forward by the Ontario’s seniors of both yesteryear and today. As such, much is owed to them for all that we enjoy today.
However, it seems that the seniors of today are not always able to reap from the rewards of their hard work. The limits of our long-term-care facilities and seniors’ residences are being stretched to the limits. Some of our parents, grandparents and neighbours find themselves languishing on seemingly endless wait lists to find suitable accommodations. Too often, couples that worked hard all their lives are finding that now in their golden years they are not able to find a home where they can live out their years with their lifetime partner or spouse. They deserve better.
It is for this reason that my colleague NDP MPP Catherine Fife tabled a private member’s bill that, if passed, would ensure that couples have the right to live together in long-term care as they age.
Over the last several years, we’ve seen couples who have been together 40, 50, even 60 years who are separated due to the challenges in our long-term care system. It is truly heart breaking for families and friends to see that after spending every day of their lives together, these couples are forced to live apart during their final years.
The Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario (FAO) recently showed that under the Liberals, government investments in long-term care did not keep pace with our aging population. Unfortunately, even today, the Conservatives have not promised anywhere close to enough beds to meet the growing demand, according to the FAO’s figures — and they’ve fallen far short of their promises, so far, having only built 21 beds in 15 months in office.
The NDP has consistently advocated for improvements to long-term care. We’ve called for a comprehensive review of the system; a minimum standard of care for patients. We are committed to continuing the fight for the right for couples to live together.
Seniors should be at the centre of our long-term care system and should have the right to live out their golden years together with their partner.