Liberals pledge $ 9 billion for long-term care as affordability and social issues take center stage in federal election campaign
The Liberals have pledged massive spending on Canada’s long-term care system, with housing affordability and social issues also rising to prominence on the fifth day of the federal election campaign.
Better compensation for personal support workers and a larger contingent of essential staff in long-term care facilities are part of a new list of commitments the Liberals have promised to keep if they are. re-elected on September 20.
But such promises are largely beyond the control of the federal government, and rely heavily on the assumption that prime ministers – most of whom are Tories – will back the plans.
During a campaign stop at a long-term care facility in Victoria, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced $ 9 billion over five years for seniors living alone or in assisted care facilities.
“This pandemic has exposed unacceptable and heartbreaking conditions in too many long-term care homes across the country,” Trudeau said.
“We need to make sure that such tragedies never happen again. “
He added that Ottawa would not start “micromanaging” long-term care, which is a provincial responsibility, but would instead work with provinces and territories to improve the system.
Funding would go to areas controlled by the province, such as establishing a minimum wage of $ 25 per hour for personal support workers. It is also spending $ 500 million to train 50,000 new workers in this field.
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If re-elected, Trudeau said his party would spend $ 3 billion to increase the availability of long-term care beds. The Liberals have also said they will improve infection prevention and control measures. They reaffirmed their promise to establish national standards – a commitment first announced in the 2020 Speech from the Throne but not yet implemented – and said this would be done through a new law on long-term care safety.
This decision was welcomed by some health unions. But Melissa Miller, a lawyer specializing in long-term care and elder abuse cases, said she hoped the announcement wasn’t a public relations punch.
She said the Liberal leader talked a year ago about working with the provinces and territories to establish national standards.
“We still haven’t seen anything,” she said. Ms Miller said legislative standards are essential, adding that the system is broken.
“I consider this a human right,” she said. “We’re just asking that people be treated well in long-term care homes. That’s it. Do not treat those who are most vulnerable with indignity and disrespect.
After the announcement, a spokesperson for Quebec Premier François Legault said he would not comment on specific proposals during the campaign, but added that “we reiterate that health is an exclusive competence of the Quebec ”.
“Mr. Legault will present the official demands of the Government of Quebec to the federal parties in the coming days,” said spokesperson Ewan Sauves.
Speaking in Edmonton on Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke about his party’s plans for long-term care. In its “Ready for Better” document, released last week, the NDP announced that it wanted to end private for-profit facilities and set national standards for home and long-term care.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke about affordability issues throughout the campaign’s first week. Thursday, he turned to housing. If elected, he pledged his party would help build one million homes over the next three years through a package that includes reviewing a federal real estate portfolio of more than 37,000 buildings and the release of at least 15% for housing. It also provides incentives for Canadians to invest in rental housing.
The Conservatives say they would work with the private sector to convert unnecessary office space into housing; and they would encourage a market for seven- to ten-year mortgages to provide more stability for first-time homebuyers and lenders.
The party’s platform also proposes to ban foreign investors who do not live or move to Canada from buying homes here for two years. Instead, the Conservatives would encourage foreign investment in affordable and purpose-built rental housing.
Social issues have also returned to the countryside.
On Thursday, the Liberals accused Mr. O’Toole of teaming up with his party’s “far right” faction, pointing to a section of the Conservative platform that promises to “protect the conscientious rights of medical professionals” .
In response, Mr. O’Toole reiterated that he is pro-choice and tries to find a “balance” between a woman’s right to choose and the personal views of healthcare workers.
“We will ensure that women have the capacity to make decisions about their health care for themselves and that abortion services are available … from coast to coast,” he said. declared.
He focused his remarks primarily on concerns about expanding medical assistance in dying to people with mental health problems. The Conservative Party has also released earlier statements by Liberal MPs supporting physicians’ conscientious rights regarding physician-assisted dying, although a leading Ontario court has ruled that physicians must refer patients to other physicians. if they do not want to provide the services themselves.
Responding to Mr. O’Toole’s comments on Thursday, Mr. Trudeau said there is something “fundamental” that the Conservative leader does not understand.
“Pro-choice doesn’t mean the freedom of doctors to choose, it means the freedom of women to choose. Leaders need to be unequivocal about this, and again, Erin O’Toole is not, ”Trudeau said.
Mr O’Toole won the leadership race last summer in part because socially conservative Tories backed him up in subsequent ballots, after their favorite candidates failed to secure enough votes in the polls. from previous rounds.
At times, Mr. O’Toole found himself in opposition to the majority of his caucus on social issues. For example, Conservative MPs were sharply divided in the June vote for third reading of Bill C-6, which sought to effectively ban the practice of conversion therapy. Mr. O’Toole was one of 51 party MPs who voted in favor of the bill, while 62 Conservative MPs voted against the bill.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet said the Conservative leader’s position on social issues is at odds with the views of his own party.
“He says he is pro-choice, but his caucus is pro-life,” Blanchet told reporters in Gatineau.
With reports from Kristy Kirkup, Menaka Raman-Wilms and Bill Curry in Ottawa
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