Ontario election campaign promise by Andrea Horwath to improve long-term care

·2 min read

With the next Ontario election just a little more than a year away, Ontario NDP Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath fired a campaign salvo at Premier Doug Ford Tuesday when she held a news conference to comment on the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission moving into its report-writing stage.

The commission ended its public submission stage on January 31 and will be working on an April 30 deadline to produce its final report.Horwath told reporters on Tuesday that the deadline should be extended to gather more information on the plight and problems of caring for residents in Ontario's long-term care homes. The situation has been highlighted in a negative way due to the fact that the pandemic has claimed thousands of lives in Ontario, with nearly 60 per cent of those deaths occurring in long-term care homes.

"Seniors and their loved ones have been crying out for an overhaul of long-term care for a very, very long time," Horwath told reporters. “And COVID has finally ripped back the curtain on this and we have an imperative to get this done.

"Other governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have not made this a priority. New Democrats will when I form the government next year. Absolutely as premier I am going to fix our long-term care system," said Horwath.

The next general election in Ontario is scheduled to take place on or before June 2, 2022, just 16 months from now.

Horwath was asked why she believed other governments have not given the issue as much attention as she would like. She replied that as an opposition leader she toured the province on at least two occasions trying to raise awareness on the long-term care issues, to both premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, but without success.

"They simply didn't see it as a priority. They didn't see the care and well-being of our seniors as something they wanted to spend dollars on," said Horwath.

"It's absolutely shameful. Yes it is complex and yes there are many pieces to it but as you identify much of the details around the solutions, many of the details around the solutions are already available to us," she said.

Horwath said essentially all that is required is the political will to put changes in place.

She added that the Long-Term Care commission needs additional time to further explore the problems that exist in Ontario homes -- something the commission has asked for, but something that the Ontario government has so far refused. Horwath said Doug Ford has the power to give the commission extra time.

"He needs to take the stranglehold off the commission, allow it to do its job, give it the extension that it requires and make sure that the government provides it with every single document that it asks for in order to complete its work," said Horwath.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com