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LETTER: We must step up and demand better for our elders

'The race for ever-increasing profits and stricter efficiencies has gutted the services and care that we expect for our elders,' says letter writer
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MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor. We received the following letter from Don Brundage regarding long-term care in Ontario.

The COVID death rate among residents of long-term care (LTC) and nursing homes in Ontario was (and yet may be) unconscionable. Anyone who has had a loved one enter almost any LTC home in Ontario knows that conditions are less than perfect.

But it took an intervention by the Canadian military to show us how far we have allowed the care of our elders to slide. It is a warning call – it is an opportunity to address the cesspool that has been allowed to grow over several administrations.

As an architect noted in a recent news article, LTC should not be viewed as “old person storage”. It should be a place to “live”. WE should ensure that these are places to live – not only for our own parents and grandparents, but for ALL parents and grandparents. When aging out at home is not possible, the alternative should not be an understaffed, underfunded warehouse.

The Harris/Ford governments (and McGuinty/Wynne as well) allowed the oversight of LTC to slack. The regulations were diluted or eliminated by committees composed mostly of LTC industry owners and leaders. Funding for inspections was cut as “an efficiency”, and owners continued to cut, cut, cut to squeeze an extra basis point for themselves and their investors.

The testimony of staff from across facilities and across professions has been clear over many years. The race for ever-increasing profits and stricter efficiencies has gutted the services and care that we expect for our elders.

Premier Ford has started an investigation. In large part, this was because of the damning report from the Canadian Forces. He has formed a committee when the dire situation calls for a full-blown investigation with subpoena rights. In many cases, conditions call for a takeover of private facilities where the owners are incapable or unwilling to rectify conditions.

We, as Ontarians (and Canadians), need to be vocal in our condemnation of the practices that have allowed care for our loved ones to lapse into near criminality. We always suspected care was marginal. There is no longer any doubt.

If we don’t demand full inquiries, and demand complete upgrades of the regulations and license requirements, we are as culpable as the stingiest care facility – and, when it’s our turn, we will get what we deserve.

Don Brundage,