Make Ontario’s election about elder care

Editorial Board, The Ottawa Citizen

More than 32,000 people are waitlisted for long-term care in Ontario. A majority of people already in facilities are aged 85 or older; almost three-quarters of them have dementia of some sort. Canada’s, and Ontario’s, long-term care crisis is ballooning rapidly. As the Citizen’s Elizabeth Payne lays out in today’s Observer, staff in long-term care homes are overworked, and families and the elderly are paying more and more for private help to compensate. Yet instances of neglect or abuse at institutions still surface. Meanwhile, private retirement residences, which are not supposed to be nursing homes, provide more and more of the care, with much higher fees, than Ontario’s price-controlled long-term care facilities. It may seem that the answer to this demographic deluge is tighter regulation. But that’s not clear. As Robert Morton, interim head of AdvantAge Ontario, which represents non-profit long-term care homes, points out, more rules don’t always spur solutions. “We know if you control and constrain a system, you drive out innovation and creativity and you don’t end up with quality,” he told the Citizen. Experts are studying other models to help the elderly, whether through more support staying in their homes, or through a healthier approach to institutional care. The Nordic countries are seen as world leaders in seniors’ aid, for instance. But ask yourself: How many of our MPPs, or those running to become one, have taken the time to study alternative models of elder care? Most provincial politicians seem stuck on a vision that teeters on the verge of failure.

Read the rest here: