Regina – Chronic neglect of long-term care has placed Canada’s elderly in a two-tiered system where costs, access and quality vary depending on your income and where you live, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees. And it is only going to get worse, unless governments act now to provide legislated standards and universal coverage under medicare.
That is the message the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the country’s largest union, is taking across the country, following the release of its extensive, long-term care study last week.
“Severe underfunding and privatization have created serious access and quality problems,” says Irene Jansen, the lead author of Residential Long-Term Care in Canada, Our Vision for Better Seniors’ Care. “To put it simply, our seniors are not getting the care they need, and deserve.”
The report found that in Saskatchewan (and all but one other province) the population is rapidly aging, but the ratio of long-term care beds (per 1,000 population 75 years and older) is dropping – a reality that has forced many seniors to pay for private care in for-profit personal care homes.
Since 1996, the number of private personal care beds in Saskatchewan has jumped from 1,629 – to 3,268 in 2009 – a 100 per cent increase.
“That’s not the direction we should be going,” warns CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham.
Toby Edelman, a senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, has seen the adverse effects of a more privatized system in the U.S. Her advice to Canada: “Don’t go down the same road.”
“Study after study shows that for-profit facilities offer less staffing and provide poorer quality care than not-for-profit facilities. Too often, money goes to administration, overhead and profits - not care for residents.”
Graham says both the federal and provincial governments must reinvest in our public, long term care system to ensure equal access and high quality care.
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For more information and interviews contact Beth Smillie: 229-4908.
To read more about the campaign and CUPE’s research on long-term care, click here.