NDP’s platform includes “A Better Life For Seniors”
NDP Leader John Horgan launched his party’s full election platform Tuesday including a section titled “A BETTER LIFE FOR SENIORS.” The pitch to seniors predictably lays most of the blame for gaps in seniors care at the feet of the Liberals and for-profit care home corporations.
“The BC Liberals were never able to meet the target they set of 3.36 hours of care per day per senior. But by 2021, we’ll have met that goal in every region of the province. Now we’re moving to exceed that standard, and deliver better care to seniors in BC,” the platform pronounces.
The list of NDP initiatives includes: “Keeping seniors safer in a crisis, hiring 7,000 new health care workers in long-term care and assisted living, delivering better care for seniors through a better deal for workers, building better, public long-term care homes, making sure private operators deliver better care, improving home care for safe, independent living, and launching a Silver Alert system.”
Meanwhile, the BC Liberals have promised a 35 per cent tax credit towards expenses seniors must meet to stay in their homes, expenses such as in-home nursing, housekeeping services or a handyman.
A senior spending $20,000 a year on such supports would be eligible for a $7,000 tax credit, for example.
The Liberals have announced a commitment of $200 million a year for five years to build enough long term care to provide seniors with their own private rooms. The NDP Capital Plan includes $1.4 billion to build long-term care facilities and eliminate multi-resident rooms over the next 10 years.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson seems supportive of the NDP plan to spend more than $10 million a month to “level-up” the wages and benefits of long-term care workers. He says Dr. Bonnie Henry “very wisely” recommended single-site restrictions for care aides six months ago, and it was the right decision to prevent the virus from spreading even more quickly into long-term care facilities.
“There will clearly have to be adjustments in how that workforce conducts itself in terms of having more than one employer, and also in how much they’re compensated to make sure that it’s a workable situation for them as long-term care workers,” Wilkinson says.
The BC Greens are also focusing on seniors in long-term care. “Too often we speak about beds in care homes, instead of the people who live there,” Green Leader Sonia Furstenau says. The Greens have promised to move away from the for-profit care home model, instead focusing on community-based facilities that “integrate seniors more deeply into our communities.”
Furstenau notes that the NDP government was quick to back Dr. Henry when she issued the single site order for facility staff earlier this year, but argues that issues within long-term care “at their core” have yet to be fixed.