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Letter: More beds or better care? On the backs of most vulnerable

'I too am appalled by the new Ontario legislation, Bill 7, which allows, doctors, hospitals and discharge co-ordinators to send patients to Long Term Care Homes, without their consent'
2020 04 21 Senior COVID-19 (AdobeStock_330618487)

To the editor:

France Gelinas, Nickel Belt MPP described the Ford plan to remove elderly, frail patients from hospital to LTC, not of their choosing, possibly into for-profit homes with bad reputations for care, without their consent, and possibly 150 kilometres from their families, as a scheme and a “cruel game.”

I too am appalled by the new Ontario legislation, Bill 7, which allows, doctors, hospitals, and discharge coordinators to send patients to Long Term Care Homes, without their consent. Not only will they be sent without their consent but they can be sent up to 150 kilometres away from their homes and families. What happens to their family's essential caregivers who provide hours and hours of care to their loved ones? It will be lost and residents will most definitely deteriorate faster.

While I understand that there is a shortage of beds and it needs to be addressed, this is not the way to do it. Ontario has the lowest percentage of beds per population of any other province in Canada. The only solution the government can come up with is to send elderly patients to LTC, possibly far away from their families. I think not! This is not the solution; it is a deplorable act of ageism!

In Canada, our senior population in nursing homes paid the heaviest price of all developed nations during Covid with approximately 14 000 deaths. Now the Ontario government is forcing an alternate level of care residents out of hospitals in their community and sending them possibly up to 150 kilometres away from their families. They will be charged $400 per day if they refuse, a price most families cannot afford to pay. They are being told they have to bear the price again!

I have a husband who is very disabled and in a nursing home. I am there every day, many times twice a day to feed and support him, as well as to support the staff. Ontario’s Long Term Care Homes have not been “fixed” and continue to suffer from shortages of staff in every area.

Wait lists in Ontario are extremely long. This will force families in crisis at home to wait even longer. Forcing hospital patients into LTC will only exacerbate the problem especially if families are not close and cannot support their loved ones. A source of support and volunteer help will be lost.

Bill 7 is not the right and moral solution. More beds in hospitals need to be created. A more robust recruitment plan in order to properly staff them needs to be instituted. Pay levels need to be commensurate with workload and training in order to retain staff.

When are we going to stand up to this government and say enough is enough? Forcing elderly patients to move without their permission, or their families’ permission, possibly hundreds of kilometres away to a home not of their choice is another example of the government's insensitivity and lack of respect for older Ontario residents.

These seniors have given much to our society and deserve much better! Mr. Ford’s government needs to reconsider and rescind this harsh, cruel, insensitive bill.

Ann McIntyre

North Bay