Local Labour Council President Henri Giroux has slammed a provincial government proposal to free up hospital beds by sending seniors to long term homes not of their choosing as "shameful."
That announcement was made Friday by Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones.
The government plans to allow patients awaiting a bed to be transferred to a "temporary" home while they await space in their preferred home.
The plan comes as nursing staff shortages have seen emergency departments across the province close throughout the summer for hours or days at a time.
“LTC is already complicated but it doesn’t have to be an unwanted life sentence," Giroux told BayToday. "Many people who make the move to long term care don’t always come from a place of choice but rather a place and time of necessity.
"Retired from working in LTC for 38 years I have seen many families come and go. I think of one couple that had to make a really tough decision after living together for decades. The husband needed additional help. To avoid caregiver burnout they made the decision for him to move to LTC."
Giroux adds that every single day his wife goes to the home to visit and feed him.
"Imagine your loved one being placed where physical distance is a barrier to maintaining the relationship with your loved one. Forcing seniors to live in a place not of their choosing is a violation of their human rights. Shame on any government to ever entertain such a decision," said Giroux who is also chair of the North Bay and District Health Coalition
In a news release, the Ontario Health Coalition called the announcement by Jones, "another in a long string of re-announcements of plans to bring in thousands of new staff in a series of ad hoc measures, similar to what we have heard before. There remains no plan that is anywhere near sufficient nor urgent enough to deal with the staffing crisis."
It highlights what it calls, "two very serious and negative announcements, including plans to privatize Ontario’s public hospital surgeries and diagnostics to for-profit clinics, and new legislation to enable the government to move seniors waiting for long-term care out of hospital beds into long-term care homes not of their choosing."
The Coalition's Executive Director Natalie Mehra added, "The announcement had very little to improve public health care and a lot to promote for-profit privatization. The bottom line is the Ford government is using the health care crisis to privatize Ontario’s public hospital services and to push seniors out to fill long-term care beds in the worst nursing homes that no one wants to go to because they have terrible reputations, most of them for profit. It is all couched in very carefully selected and manipulative language, but the actual policy changes they are proposing are clear and they clearly benefit for-profit companies at the expense of patients, particularly seniors.”