CUPE is concerned about the either-or approach that provincial and territorial leaders appear to have endorsed at last week’s Council of the Federation meeting. In the post-meeting communiqué, the premiers stated they “will look at successful efforts to prioritize homecare over long-term care institutionalization and identify two to three innovative models for provinces and territories to consider adapting.”
This could mean a plan to shift even more resources out of residential long-term care to fund an expansion of home care. Home care is, and must be, a critical part of our continuum of care, but must come with additional resources, and not at the expense of long-term care. Shifting existing resources around without adding new funding just won’t work.
We need additional resources for home care. Some provinces have used funding increases to home care to justify real reductions to long-term care and hospital care; that is just wrong.
The number of older seniors (85+ years old) is set to triple in the next 40 years from around 1-in-30 to around 1-in-10. Older seniors face more complicated and serious health issues some of which cannot be met in a home care setting. The growing share of the population 85 years and older will result in much greater demand for long-term care beds.
By one estimate, the number of beds required in long-term care facilities could range from 565,000 to 746,000 by 2031. Currently, Canada has around 200,000 long-term care beds. Residential long-term care spaces will need to triple alongside the tripling in the numbers of older seniors.
Home care will need to be a key element of the continuing care system, but we desperately need public investment in our residential long-term care systems to meet this demographic challenge.
That is why CUPE is advocating for the creation of a new continuing care federal program which would cover home and community care, as well as long-term care. In addition, we are pushing for the expansion of the non-profit and public delivery of these necessary services, as these are areas that are highly privatized in some provinces.
CUPE represents approximately 72,500 residential long-term care workers and home care workers across Canada. Our members work every day to ensure patients in residential care facilities receive the highest quality medical care and personal attention under very difficult working conditions.