Witmer pressures province on seniors care

TheStar.com – Ontario – Witmer pressures province on seniors care
March 13, 2009.   Tanya Talaga, Queen’s Park Bureau

Ontario seniors languish in long-term care homes without enough support to bathe, dress or go to the washroom, say advocates who are pressing the government to make sure each resident gets three hours of personal care a day.

Premier Dalton McGuinty should use funding in the March 26 budget to ensure those in long-term facilities receive that three hours of care, said Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer, a former health minister, who held a news conference yesterday at Queen’s Park.

In the last six years, Ontario has failed to keep pace with the needs of the aging population and there are 25,000 people waiting to get into long-term care facilities, said Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo). In 2005, there were 12,000 waiting.

The Liberals argue they have pumped more than $1 billion into long-term care funding since 2003.

“Funding for long-term care has increased by 50 per cent since our government came to office,” Deputy Premier George Smitherman said in the Legislature.

Witmer said the Liberals promised to provide an additional $6,000 per year of personal care in 2003. The Liberals say they did not make that promise, but regardless, they have gone beyond it with funding of $8,965 in per-resident care. Health ministry officials say the government has raised the level of paid daily care to 3.26 hours a day, working toward 3.5 hours by 2011.

Donna Rubin, CEO of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors, said paid daily care does not translate into hands-on personal care, and more hiring of personal support workers and nurses is needed.

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