January 22, 2024 News

Rural Ontario health strategy

Statement from CEO Donna Duncan

In response to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s (ROMA) push for a transformative health strategy:

“The Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) strongly endorses the Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s (ROMA) advocacy for a comprehensive health strategy in Ontario, a vital component of the Ontario government’s proposed social and economic prosperity review.

Ontario’s long-term care (LTC) sector is under significant pressure, particularly in rural and Northern communities. Ongoing staffing shortages, financial constraints and the need for modern facilities to meet the changing needs of LTC residents are concerning challenges. High costs and barriers for mandatory updates (like additional sprinklers) and escalating construction costs are forcing many LTC homes towards closure, threatening our sector’s capacity at a time when the waitlist is over 43,000.

LTC homes are in a critical state, underscoring the need for province-wide dialogue to ensure Ontarians across the province can access the care and services they need when they need them.

Decisive action is crucial for LTC in rural and Northern Ontario. OLTCA is working collaboratively with the Ontario Government to address LTC sector challenges, focusing on the unique needs of rural and Northern Ontario. Key initiatives include a proposed $175,000 annual operating grant for small, rural, and Northern LTC homes with 128 spaces or less so they can remain financially viable while facing skyrocketing costs due to the pressures of inflation.

OLTCA is also committed to securing increased funding for essential areas like Nursing and Personal Care as well advocating for broad improvements across the LTC sector. This includes tackling funding for rising operational expenses, creating a new path for redevelopment so homes can modernize, promoting design flexibility, aligning capital funding with construction costs, and providing license extensions now so homes can begin to plan to rebuild.

OLTCA is also advocating for a new Ministry support role to streamline LTC development and redevelopment, providing expert guidance and simplifying administrative and developmental complexities which will help homes build faster.

Municipal support is vital in this transformative journey, with municipalities playing a key role in advancing LTC development and redevelopment. Their support in offering development charge relief, streamlining permitting processes, and advocating for increased provincial funding is fundamental to maintaining LTC capacity within their communities.

Collective effort is essential to the creation of a robust, sustainable and accessible long-term care system. Addressing the challenges facing long-term care today is an investment in the future of healthcare in Ontario and making sure that every senior has access to the quality care they deserve. Together, we are building a stronger, more resilient long-term care sector here in Ontario and we are ready to meet today’s demands and adapt to tomorrow’s challenges.”

January 22, 2024