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Letter to the editor: Health Coalition fighting against more privatized long-term care beds is ill advised

'To anyone who thinks a government system controlled by union leaders is superior to a private system is going to be sorely disappointed'

The Ontario Health Coalition’s (OHC) efforts to get public support for its push for more public long-term care homes (LTC’s) are self-serving. I would urge the public and the government to think twice about buying into the reasoning provided for this solution to long-term care.

Examination indicates that the representatives on the OHC Board of Directors are comprised of members of the Canadian Labour Congress, Unifor, UFCW, Council of Canadians, CUPE, Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, National Union, United Steelworkers, Public Service Alliance Friends of Medicare and two other similarly comprised provincial health coalitions with similar makeup.

According to the government report, the intended allocation of the 30,000 new beds licenses now stands 14,000 for non-profit (union) and 16,000 for-profit (private) and plans to build 15,000 new beds over the next 5 years.

To all those who think that the government operation of LTC”s is the answer; I would like to offer our family’s experience. The facility was fairly new at the time and municipally owned and was responsible for our mother’s care up until her death. This occurred a few years ago and is all pre-covid-19. 

The mandated practice of recording everything eaten by residents on a day by day, meal by meal record was apparently done by guessing. My mother had to essentially be spoon-fed water or liquid in order to get her to drink, yet the record showed she was drinking eight ounces of liquid per day. More than once at the evening meal, I observed that the meal records were nowhere in sight after the 30 – 40 residents had dispersed and the dishes cleared away.

Being a wheelchair she was apparently easy prey for various levels of assault by other residents. Nothing of any real consequence was ever done to prevent these incidents and I recently destroyed the photographic evidence of the most egregious because it brought back too many bad memories of her time there.

During her stay, on one occasion her hearing aids disappeared and on another, her glasses went missing. Subsequent inquires by family members to staff failed to get any indication that these appliances were missed by them but apparently no awareness that she normally wore them. Subsequent, appeals to management to investigate were delayed by “that person in on holidays” or “that supervisor is not on shift or on leave” and the final outcome provided no reasonable explanation at all.

Based on our experience, I suggest that the option of an LTC home is never going to be ideal but to anyone who thinks a government system controlled by union leaders is superior to a private system is going to be sorely disappointed.

Don Rennick

North Bay