Advocates on P.E.I. say the changes for seniors promised in the throne speech would be welcome steps, but they'd like more information about what those changes could look like.
In Wednesday's speech from the throne, the Liberal government proposed changes to long-term care, which included introducing national standards of care and changing the Criminal Code of Canada to penalize those who neglect seniors in their care and put them in danger.
"We're really pleased to see that the federal government is openly acknowledging that they do have a role to play in long-term care. It's not just a provincial issue, it's a national issue," said Jason Lee, CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes.
But, the speech was sparse on details, and Lee hopes the focus Ottawa comes up with, keeps in line with what's needed in the sector.
"What that means exactly as as far as, you know, investing dollars into seniors and how that's going to … be spent and used and whether that's where we really see the pressures and the troubles being," said Lee.
"Hopefully they line up and it's adequate and we can start solving some of the problems that are not just problems from the last six months, but from the last 30 years, some would say."
One of those problems that Lee said he sees nationally is staffing levels. PEI Seniors Homes are fully staffed, but it's becoming harder to do that, said Lee.
"There are roles and there are things the federal government can do to make that easier through training, through immigration programs, through direct funding to allow us to hire the people that we need," he said.
"Having experts in infection control working in every nursing home in Canada would be a great step forward," he said.
As far as what he'd like to see included within national standards, Lee said standardization of data collection across long-term care facilities across the country would go a long way.
He said he hopes the federal government pays some attention to the homes themselves, and provides them with infrastructure dollars to update facilities across the country.
'We just have to have something standardized'
Russell Noiles, president of the P.E.I. Senior Citizens Federation agrees with Lee. He said it's good to see the federal government paying attention to the situation in long-term care facilities, but he'd like to see some more details.
"It's an interesting idea. I'm not sure how it's going to be implemented but we've got to have some sort of standard, as the pandemic has proven to us that the situation now is not working properly and it cost a lot of senior lives," he said.
"We just have to have something standardized. So everybody's on the same page."
Much like Lee, he hopes the federal government identifies staffing as a key priority. He said more staff, means more care for seniors, which can also help combat social isolation.
"We feel that we need more people in there for care. There's a lot in there that, you know, basically don't see anybody. And so if they're in there 24/7, they only see two people in a day. That's not good for anybody," he said.
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