NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is seen during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday February 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is seen during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday February 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NDP makes pre-emptive strike with election pledge on long-term care

OTTAWA — The NDP is calling for the elimination of for-profit long-term care by 2030 in a multibillion-dollar plan presented as a potential election promise.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said an NDP government would convene provincial and territorial leaders, experts and workers to set national standards for nursing homes, and tether those benchmarks to $5 billion in federal funding.

Speaking at a virtual news conference Friday, Singh said the federal government should work with provincial and territorial authorities to establish national standards for long-term care homes.

“While we respect jurisdiction, there is no excuse for the federal government not to play a leadership role,” he said.

“There’s no way that we can’t find a way to work together with provinces to put forward the best practices to establish how we can care for seniors.”

The proposal is the latest move in anticipation of a possible election campaign as parties vet candidates and rev up fundraising.

In a release Friday, Singh accused the minority Liberal government of underfunding health care and protecting the profits of large companies and shareholders.

“Justin Trudeau made a promise to long-term care workers, residents, and their families to better fund long-term care and seniors care before he was prime minister. He broke his promise,” Singh said.

The NDP’s pre-emptive platform plank would see a national task force charged with crafting a plan to transition all for-profit care to a not-for-profit model in less than 10 years.

It would also follow through on New Democrats’ calls to immediately transform Revera from a for-profit long-term care chain owned by a Crown pension fund into a publicly managed entity.

The company runs more than 500 seniors residences in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. It is owned by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, which bought it out in 2007.

Several studies over the past six months have found that for-profit care homes were likelier to see more extensive COVID-19 outbreaks and more deaths, exposing cracks in care models across the country.

Trudeau has reiterated that he respects provincial jurisdiction while seeking to protect seniors’ rights through billions of dollars in extra support funds transferred to the provinces over the past year.

Ottawa asked the Canadian Red Cross to send workers into some care homes in Ontario facing outbreaks last fall, after sending in the military to help out in homes in Quebec and Ontario in the spring.

Health Canada has referred questions about ending Revera’s for-profit model to the provinces, given their constitutional jurisdiction over health care.

Singh’s pledge on long-term care builds on past demands to remove the profit element from the health-care system, and fits into a broader progressive push by the NDP since he took the party helm in 2017.

Singh has continued to call for a tax on the “ultra-rich,” criticize how wage subsidies found their way into shareholder bank accounts and chip away at the Liberals for sluggish progress on national pharmacare and child-care programs.

He has also made a renewed push for voters under 35, advocating for cancelled interest payments on federal student loans, now part of the government’s fiscal update.

Under the new NDP proposal, funding for provinces and territories would be tied to principles of accessibility and public administration in the Canada Health Act, legislation that currently does not cover long-term care.

Nursing homes, unlike hospitals, are excluded from provincial and territorial public health systems, which critics say leads to under-training of workers, substandard facilities and — particularly in some for-profit homes — overcrowding.

More than a quarter of Canada’s 2,039 long-term care homes are for-profit, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Recent outbreaks at several homes have set off alarm bells after the first wave saw more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 deaths occur in long-term care facilities.

As of Thursday, 66 of the 127 residents of the private Roberta Place care home in Barrie, Ont., who were infected with a highly contagious COVID-19 variant have died, according to a spokesperson.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read