News from the Park

Readers of last week’s column about utilizing my “political barometer” skills may recall that I alluded to sort of a general vexation that Ontarians, and most Canadians for that matter, have for the seemingly endless gamesmanship and squabbling emanating from their elected officials. In truth what Ontarians want is for their political leaders to speak, act and lead with confidence, understanding and compassion. They expect politicians to successfully work cooperatively to ensure the growth of the economy and technology, ensure the health and safety of its people and to generally make life better for everyone. The thing is, however, it takes two to tango. All politicians and political parties need to sing from the same song book in this regard. Not to sound like a broken record, this is why Andrea Horwath and the NDP committed to proposing polices and change with a positive focus on making life better for Ontarians, rather than just opposing whatever direction the government determines.

That’s why this week I am focussing upon strictly presenting a new positive plan for which the only goal is to make life better, healthier, happier and safer for our seniors. In other words, we are putting finger pointing aside and just stating what the NDP believes needs to be done.

We desperately need a plan for better aging. We need to completely overhaul our home care so that people can live at home happily, longer and safer. We all know that most people prefer to live in the comfort of their own home for as long as they can. While this may be a popular philosophy to base plans around, the truth is that we have not been very effective in seeing this goal through to a successful end for most. Service delivery for seniors is unequally distributed across Ontario, with rural and Northern areas often receiving the least reliable care than more urban areas. In 2015, the Auditor General of Ontario pointed out this inconsistency in services across Ontario, and not much has changed since.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is with this in mind that New Democrats have crafted our new “Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best” plan.

To achieve this, New Democrats know we must establish provincial standards for home care services by creating a basket of core services - a basic set of home care services, such as meal preparation or nursing care to help with medication management – that will be applicable all across the province. We must hold service providers accountable to ensure they meet the provincially-regulated criteria for basic services.

We’ll need to align home care services to communities’ needs. Ontarians speak hundreds of different languages at home. But often, the health care providers who help our parents don’t speak their language, and don’t know about their culture.

To address this, Andrea Horwath and the NDP will create culturally appropriate resources and training for home and community care programs. We will develop a provincial jobs-matching program to attract and match personal support workers and other home care workers to jobs in communities where they have common cultural and linguistic knowledge.

Too often Northern families are separated when the only long-term care space that our loved one is offered is an hour or more away. That has a profound impact on our parents in long term care. It doesn’t happen as frequently in the bigger cities in Southern Ontario, and it should never again happen to families in the North. Under our new model, residents will live in communities of six to ten, sharing spaces like dining and living rooms. In small towns or villages, it could look like a regular home in a neighbourhood, and in urban centres it could look more like a small community of villas. In the north, that means families will be able to stay close together in a place that looks and feels like a real home, not a senior facility. You should be able to readily pop over to your parents or grandparents new home, rather than drive an hour to visit.

The NDP will commit to being upfront about where Ontarians’ money is being spent when it comes to home care. Rather than continuing previous governments’ approach of making decisions behind closed doors, the NDP government will work with local communities to provide home care that reflects local needs, and ensures access to services, both at home and in the community. We will bring in a community based not-for-profit home-care system and end for-profit home care in Ontario.

The NDP is committed to eight objectives:

· Overhaul home care to help people live at home longer

· Make all long-term care public and not-for-profit

· Build small, modern, family-like homes

· Staff up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers

· Make family caregivers a priority

· Create culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care situations

· Clear the wait list for access to long-term care

· Guarantee new and stronger protections for our seniors

We can have a system where every last dollar goes into better care, and better quality of life for our loved ones. Your parents deserve to be better off, no matter how much money is in their retirement fund. And you also deserve to have the peace of mind that comes with that. We must create a system that will ensure that senior care is not something to be dreaded in the future, but rather something that maintains and improves the quality of our lives as we age. For more information on the Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best plan, click here or go to ONDP.ca under press releases.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at mmantha-co@ndp.on.ca or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin