Opposition Liberals calling on provincial government to take steps to improve supports for seniors and staff in Long Term Care, home care, and assisted living facilities
Three and a half months ago, the Seniors Advocate for British Columbia, Isobel Mackenzie, released her latest report titled “A Billion Reasons to Care”.
The report was the first provincial review of the $1.4 billion-dollar contracted long-term care sector in British Columbia. The review examined industry contracts, annual audited financial statements and detailed reporting on revenue and expenditures for the years 2016/17 and 2017/18.
“Contracted long-term care homes costs taxpayers almost $1.3 billion a year, and it is important to examine the levels of accountability, monitoring, and financial oversight in one of the largest contracted sectors within government. The public needs to know whether contracted long-term care homes are meeting the needs of both residents and taxpayers” said Mackenzie.
Her report also found that care homes in the not-for profit sector spent 59% of revenues on direct care versus 49% in the for-profit sector -- not-for-profit care homes spent 9% of revenue on building expenses versus 20% in the for-profit sector – and -- for-profit care homes generated 12 times the amount of profit generated in the not-for-profit sector, $34.4 million versus $2.8 million.
Now, this morning, BC Liberal Opposition leader Andrew Wilkinson, along with Health Critic Norm Letnick and Critic for Seniors Care Linda Reid, called on Premier John Horgan and the NDP government to take steps to improve supports for seniors and staff in Long Term Care (LTC), home care and assisted living facilities.
|BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson|
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on several gaps that exist in our senior care support services,” said Wilkinson.
“Our seniors have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and, tragically, represent many of the deaths our province has experienced. BC families who have had to endure the heartbreak of losing their loved ones want to see more action from this government to fill the gaps in our senior care services.”
In a letter to the Premier, the Liberals have recommended a series of actions from the government. These include launching a thorough independent review of long-term care in British Columbia to clearly define where the system has performed well, and where it has failed.
Looking at the BC Seniors Advocate report, it was found that for-profit care homes have lower costs than not-for-profit care homes, for each worked hour of direct care across all direct care classifications -- and care aide wages in for-profit care homes can be paid as much as 28% or $6.63 less per hour than the industry standard.
“There is a pattern of for-profit operators paying lower wages, the degree to which this is impacting their ability to recruit and retain staff is unclear” said Mackenzie.
The review also found problems with building costs, particularly capital building costs that are publicly funded through payments to the operator.
“We fund over $200 million a year for building costs across the sector but we do not attempt to determine if the taxpayer is receiving good value for money and paying fair market rates” said Mackenzie.
On the COVID-19 front, the BC Liberals are calling for a comprehensive resource strategy to meet the growing demand for staffing in seniors’ care -- and providing support for residents and staff incurring the costs of implementing additional health and safety measures in senior care facilities.
They also want to see the establishment of a timeline and resources strategy that will allow families to visit their loved ones in senior care while adhering to the appropriate physical distancing measures.
“Our seniors helped build this province and have granted us the quality of life we enjoy here in BC today,” said Reid, who then concluded:
“We all want to see government work to provide our seniors with the best possible care. This government has an obligation to meet the growing demand for these supports and services so we can give back to those we owe so much to and now is the time to take action.”