Toronto Star

Let’s act on Ontarians’ preference for non-profit LTC

- LISA LEVIN

As COVID-19’s deadly toll subsides, we cannot afford to take our eyes off Ontario’s long-term-care sector.

That’s because the provincial government, led by Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips, has indicated it is setting out on a large-scale transforma­tion. This will be the first time government has opened up its long-term-care legislatio­n in more than a decade.

We are at a crossroads.

The province has signalled its intention to focus transforma­tion on accountabi­lity, transparen­cy and enforcemen­t. All laudable goals. But what is urgently needed is for government to commit to more profound changes. That starts with a fundamenta­l shift, from its current focus on physical care towards a more holistic approach to our residents’ mental and emotional health.

Resident-centred care means improving people’s quality of life, by prioritizi­ng laughter, joy and fun.

Government must take on this goal as it moves forward. In turn, we need to see a strong commitment to prioritize notfor-profit care, which, we would argue, is the best proponent of these models.

More than two-thirds — 68 per cent — of Ontarians list not-for-profit, municipall­y owned and charitable homes as their first choice for care. More than 25,000 Ontarians are currently waiting for a bed in one of these homes. It’s time the provincial government acted on this preference by committing to build more not-for-profit beds.

Not-for-profit homes are based on a model of care anchored in compassion, respect and kindness. They invest every dollar into their residents. Any surplus gets returned back into operations to continuall­y increase the level and quality of care and services.

This results in a range of positive outcomes, including higher staffing levels, lower hospital admissions and more than 20 per cent more hours of direct daily care than other homes.

COVID-19 had tragic consequenc­es in Ontario, taking thousands of lives in long-term-care homes. Yet despite accounting for 46 per cent of all long-termcare beds in the province, the deaths in not-for-profit homes during the first two waves represente­d less than 22 per cent of all LTC COVID fatalities.

In some respects, it’s not a surprise that Ontarians prefer not-for-profit homes. Within the long-term-care sector, notfor-profit homes most closely align with Canadian values, and our commitment to public health care.

But it is a surprise that government treats not-for-profit and for-profit homes similarly.

That includes in its funding, which is roughly the same for both types of homes. While both for-profits and notfor-profits charge the same fixed rates to residents, for-profit homes can generate profit from the funding they receive from government in a budget area called Other Accommodat­ion. That budget area is for costs related to housekeepi­ng, laundry and building maintenanc­e.

Not-for-profit homes return any surpluses in Other Accommodat­ion to enhance resident care and operations. As a result, they often lack the equity required for capital redevelopm­ent. That is the key difference

Not-for-profit homes are not part of chains or controlled by corporate headquarte­rs.

They mirror our communitie­s. They include homes specifical­ly geared to Chinese, Jewish, Francophon­e, LGBTQ, Mennonite and other specific cultural and religious communitie­s. In fact, of the province’s 70 cultural and religious long-term-care homes, all are not-forprofit.

Although they are profession­ally run, they are community led. Local leaders run our boards, and volunteer groups fundraise for a variety of expenses to improve the quality of life for residents. This results in the highest levels of transparen­cy.

Ontarians have clearly expressed their preference for not-for-profit long-term care.

We urge the government to act on that preference by increasing its investment­s into not-for-profit care so we can truly be supported to deliver resident-centred care.

 ?? ?? Lisa Levin is CEO of AdvantAge Ontario, an associatio­n representi­ng more than 200 not-for-profit, municipall­y owned and charitable longterm-care homes.
Lisa Levin is CEO of AdvantAge Ontario, an associatio­n representi­ng more than 200 not-for-profit, municipall­y owned and charitable longterm-care homes.

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