Building and advancing long-term care in Ontario

Published on July 29, 2020

Sun Media Editorial 

by Dr. Merrilee Fullerton 

New funding model will change the game for development of LTC homes

We all want the best for our aging loved ones. That’s why our government is taking historic steps to improve capacity and conditions in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

Much work has been done since the creation of the new Ministry of Long-Term Care one year ago to address the need for long-term care modernization. Meeting with sector representatives, visiting homes across the province, and talking with residents and staffing organizations has helped inform a path forward that puts residents at the centre of care.

COVID-19 has only amplified the need for long-term care in Ontario to be repaired, rebuilt and advanced. Our government is committed to this important priority.

Earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford and I announced a new modernized funding model for long-term care that we are applying to the creation of new capacity and to the upgrading of older homes to modern standards.

This new funding model is designed around the specific needs of different “market segments” — rural, mid-size, urban, and large urban. It removes barriers to building and upgrading long-term care homes in Ontario so that more seniors can receive the care they need in their communities.

Between 2011 and 2018, under the previous government, only 611 beds were built across Ontario. This resulted in a wait list of more than 37,000 people. New and renovated capacity is necessary to address the wait list and address the serious limitations of aging long-term care homes.

Putting our previously announced $1.75-billion investment to work, the new funding model will increase upfront funding and cover key development charges that will make it easier for operators to get projects off the ground and help more residents receive the care they need, faster.

For example, Ottawa is in a large urban market segment, and the availability and affordability of land is a major barrier to development. Under the new model, local operators will receive the increased funding they need to secure the loans and real estate they need to get building.

Today, across Ontario, there are 128 LTC projects at various stages. These projects add up to 7,800 new LTC beds and another 11,700 beds for redevelopment. Each of these projects represent a safe, modern, comfortable long-term care community in the making, and is a start toward modernizing care for Ontario’s aging population.

Near my riding Kanata-Carleton, there are presently four projects which will add 212 new LTC spaces to our community and redevelop 512 older beds to modern standards.

One application comes from the non-profit Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, a home that I have visited many times, which provides compassionate, specialized care to veterans in our community.

Projects like these are underway in all corners of the province, and our modernized funding model will help make them a reality.

On average it takes 36 months for a new long-term care home to be built and ready to open, which means that bold moves are needed to make up for lost time. This new funding model will jumpstart development on projects in the pipeline and help us build the capacity to deliver modern, dignified, high quality care to seniors waiting for a place to call home.

We know that congestion in long-term care homes has exacerbated the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 and made asymptomatic spread difficult to contain in some instances. This modernized funding model will help relieve this congestion and provide aging Ontarians with the care they need sooner.

By putting residents at the centre of care and by making smart investments to modernize long-term care, our government is working to ensure our loved ones have access to the care and comfort they deserve, now and into the future.

 

Photo Credit: FRANK GUNN /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Link to original published article in the Toronto Sun: https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/fullerton-building-and-advancing-long-term-care-in-ontario