By MPP Toby Barrett
Our society in Ontario recognizes the crucial role home care plays in our health system.
We know seniors prefer to stay at home as long as they can, and we are taking steps to promote the kind of healthy living that ensures that can happen. It is better for the health care system if seniors can stay in their homes longer and, it is best for the mental well-being of seniors too.
It is critical home and community care are part of our integrated health care system, not stand-alone. Remember, home care is not just for the elderly but also for other vulnerable members, of all ages, who need assistance at home.
Our government is building healthier communities, strengthening the public health care system and ending hallway health care.
Fixing home care has been a focus of our government since the 2018 election. This task is critical to everything else we are doing to reform all facets of the healthcare system.
Maintaining hospitals for those who need care is vital. Using hospitals as an alternative level of care for seniors waiting to get into long-term care (LTC) is not efficient nor fair to our seniors. However, this is what transpired in Ontario for a very long time. When we took office in 2018, there were virtually no new LTC beds and the waitlist stood at 36,000.
Early in our mandate, we passed the Community Care Act, to modernize the delivery of home care services by bringing an outdated system, designed in the 1990s, into the 21st century. Our government, of course, recognizes the crucial role that home care plays in our health care system. That’s why right after we passed the Connecting Care Act; we also passed the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, to modernize the delivery of home care services.
Ontario is blessed with good hard-working people — the pandemic has definitely shone a light on these folks continuing to provide exceptional quality of care, which our world-class health care system is built upon. To that end, our government is supporting increased enrolment in nursing and personal support worker programs. By working with our postsecondary education partners, we are training and educating more talent to support the home care sector in communities across Ontario.
One of the things we did in the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act was to take the service maximums off home care. Before, a client could only receive four hours of home care, and now we removed that maximum. With the staff we are adding, the idea is that if people need more help at home, they should be able to get it, and they should have that additional care so they can stay at home and out of the hospital or LTC.
We’ve been working hard to ensure we have the health care workers to respond to the needs of our population, to allow them to have the care they need when and where they need it.
Our vision has not wavered despite the challenges over the past 2.5 years – we will do all we can to provide Ontario with high quality and connected care. We have engaged with numerous sector partners, including patients, providers, front-line workers and labour organizations so we can build a connected 21st century health care system that puts Ontarians at the centre of care.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk