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