Back to building long-term care beds in Ontario

By MPP Toby Barrett

Help is on the way for long-term care, a sector that saw only 611 new beds built between 2011 and 2018. Many long-term care homes were constructed before 1970, and outdated rooms are in dire need of redevelopment. 

Previously, when I served with Premier Harris, we initiated construction of 20,000 long-term care beds. This included locally the new Edgewater Gardens, Grandview, Parkview Meadows and Norview. 

Premier Ford is committed to constructing 30,000 beds over 10 years. We are putting shovels in the ground to initially create 8,000 new long-term care beds, and redevelopment of 12,000 existing ones.

Governments of all stripes have talked about solutions and tried for two decades to build long-term care but have failed. They have rebranded the same financial model time and again without producing any significant results. Yet, no one thought to ask, “Why isn’t this working?” 

Our government is taking historic steps to improve the lives of our seniors. Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, has spent the past year meeting with the long-term care sector in order to remove barriers to building long-term care homes in Ontario. 

Earlier this month, Premier Ford and Minister Fullerton announced a new modernized funding model that our government is applying to the building of new long-term care homes and upgrading of older homes to modern standards. Designed around the specific needs of different regional markets, this model is going to incentivize long-term care operators to invest in building and renovating homes in all corners of Ontario, including right here in Haldimand – Norfolk.

Putting our government’s historic $1.75 billion investment in long-term care capacity growth to work, this funding model will increase upfront funding and cover key development charges, making it easier to get projects off the ground and get more residents the care they need, fast. The model is tailored to overcome localized barriers and meet community needs in each of four market segments (based on population size): rural, mid-size, urban, and large urban.

As of today, applications have already been submitted for two big long-term care projects that would build 126 new beds and upgrade 130 older beds in our own backyard. If these applications move forward, this modernized funding model would help make the projects a reality and provide local long-term care residents with new, modern places to call home.

Our modernized funding model is one key part of repairing the cracks in our aging long-term care system, addressing our growing waitlist, building healthier and safer communities, and getting us closer to ending hallway health care. 

We are served by the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant and South West LHINs (Local Health Integration Networks), which together have 17,980 long-term care beds, a waitlist of 5,123 vulnerable seniors, and a median wait time of 86 days for admission.   

By making smart investments to modernize long-term care, we can build a stronger system and ensure our loved ones have access to the care and comfort they deserve, now and in the future. 

The sector told our government what they needed to get shovels in the ground and deliver care for our seniors, and we listened. This innovative new model will help get the job done faster and get aging Ontarians the care they need sooner.

Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk