Paramedics take away a person from Revera Westside Long Term Care Home during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. The federal New Democrats are seeking the support of the House of Commons in calling on the government to eliminate for-profit long-term care. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Paramedics take away a person from Revera Westside Long Term Care Home during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. The federal New Democrats are seeking the support of the House of Commons in calling on the government to eliminate for-profit long-term care. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Federal NDP calls on government to eliminate for-profit long-term care

Government urged to halt the licensing of any new for-profit homes

The federal New Democrats are seeking the support of the House of Commons in calling on the government to eliminate for-profit long-term care.

The NDP is tabling a motion today that calls on the government to transition existing for-profit homes into not-for-profit operations by 2030.

It also urges the government to work with the provinces and territories to halt the licensing of any new for-profit homes.

The motion is non-binding on the minority Liberal government and is set to be debated today, with a vote expected Tuesday.

The NDP unveiled its proposal for the long-term care sector earlier this year, presenting it as a potential election promise as parties ramp up their preparations ahead of a possible campaign.

At the time, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said an NDP government would bring together provincial and territorial leaders, experts and workers to set national standards for nursing homes, which would then be tied to $5 billion in federal funding.

“Let’s be clear, nobody should be profiting off the neglect of our loved ones,” Singh said in a statement issued ahead of the motion’s tabling.

The motion also includes a call to immediately turn Revera — a company that runs more than 500 seniors’ homes in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom — from a for-profit chain owned by a Crown pension fund into a publicly managed entity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he respects provincial authority when it comes to long-term care, and supports the sector through billions of dollars in additional funding allocated to the provinces during the COVID-19 crisis.

Multiple recent studies have found that for-profit nursing homes were more likely to experience more widespread virus outbreaks, as well as more deaths.

During the first wave of the pandemic, more than 80 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care facilities.

In Ontario, where the second wave has proven even deadlier than the first in nursing homes, an independent commission has been convened to examine the virus’s impact on the sector. The commission is slated to deliver its final report at the end of April.

More than a quarter of the country’s long-term care homes are for-profit, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2021.

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