B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020. (B.C. NDP photo)

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020. (B.C. NDP photo)

B.C. VOTES 2020

Seniors care is one of the most important issues this election

Not an ideological decision, John Horgan says

A B.C. NDP government will carry on with its transformation of senior care by phasing out private, for-profit facilities and moving to an entirely public system, leader John Horgan says.

“I believe we need to transition to a fully public system, but we won’t be doing that overnight,” Horgan said at a campaign stop with care home employees in New Westminster Oct. 14. “I’m not going to eliminate facilities because of an ideological purpose.”

B.C.’s assisted living and senior care network is a mix of facilities run directly by regional health authorities and privately owned contractors, some run by churches and other non-profit societies and some that have paying clients along with publicly subsidized beds.

Terry Lake, the former B.C. Liberal health minister who took over in September as CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, said the promise is a departure from previous NDP policy of working with all providers of senior care in the province.

In February, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie released a performance audit calculating that for-profit senior facilities spend an average of 49 per cent of their revenues on direct care, while non-profit contractors spend an average of 59 per cent on care. Mackenzie found that the calculations depended on “self-reported unaudited expense reports prepared by the care home operators, with no ability to verify the reported worked hours.”

RELATED: For-profit senior homes spend less on staff: advocate

RELATED: Bathing, meal times need work in B.C. senior homes

Currently a third of publicly funded long-term care beds are operated by B.C.’s regional health authorities. For-profit contractors operate 35 per cent, and not-for-profit contractors run the remaining 32 per cent. The budget for long-term care services was about $2 billion for the fiscal year ended in March, growing since Dix raised wages to union rates and wound down the practice of care aides moving from one part-time job to another at different facilities.

Horgan also matched a B.C. Liberal campaign promise to eliminate shared rooms in senior care facilities as B.C. continues to transform a system that struggled with infection control during the COVID-19 pandemic. B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson announced Oct. 5 that if his party forms government, it will devote $1 billion to replacing and upgrading care homes to all private rooms.

ALSO READ: BC Greens focus on long-term care reform in first platform promise

Horgan and NDP candidate Adrian Dix repeated their pledge to hire 7,000 more care aides along with the elimination of multi-bed wards. Dix said his program to bring up care-per-senior hours to the provincial standard is nearing its goal, after years of of sub-standard care in up to nine out of 10 facilities.

“At the end of this year, not a single care home will be below standard,” Dix said.

By the party:

BC Liberals

  • Introduce the Seniors’ Home Care Tax Credit, which provides seniors with a tax credit up to $7,000 a year for up to $20,000 of housekeeping, home repairs and supportive care.
  • Ensure every senior in long-term care who wants one has a private room.

  • Will invest an additional $1 billion over five years in new long-term care facilities.

BC Greens

  • Begin to shift the sector away from a for-profit private company model to a mix of public, non-for-profit, community-based services and co-ops.

  • Establish caregivers as a recognized healthcare profession
  • Give the Office of the Seniors Advocate more independence, expanded mandate

BC NDP

  • Hiring 7,000 new health care workers in long-term care and assisted living

  • Making sure private operators deliver better care
  • Launching a Silver Alert system

@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

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

Just Posted

Christmas Lights
This nativity scene at the home of Paul Biro, organizer of the Summerland Drive-By Light Up, was just one of many parts of his elaborate display. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
VIDEO: Summerland holiday lights on display

Drive-by light-up on Nov. 27 showed some of the many festive season decorations

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

The video was used for (KGH Foundation - YouTube)
Okanagan filmmaker, poet win at L.A. Film Awards

Spoken word artist Shane Koyczan wrote and filmmaker David Nault produced the commercial

Okanagan College students Michael Ochoa and Tallin Gregoire, both members of the Okanagan Indian Band, raised the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag on July 16, 2019,  outside the Vernon campus. (Karissa Gall photo)
First Nations reconciliation personified at Okanagan College

President Jim Hamilton’s foresight has opened post-secondary education doors for Okanagan College’s Indigenous students

A sow and her three cubs, reported on social media for several weeks to be living in Princeton, were destroyed by a Conservation Officer Saturday (File photo WildsafeBC - Facebook)
OPINION: Conservation officers don’t kill bears – we do

A mother and three cubs were destroyed recently in a Princeton residential neighbourhood.

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Join Rob Dinwoodie and bandmates for a Cowboy Christmas, Dec. 11 and 12 at Vernon and District Performing Arts Center. Seating is cabaret style on the stage for an intimate concert. (Contributed)
North Okanagan cowboys go virtual for Christmas

Cowboy Christmas streamed Dec. 11-25

Vernon is getting in the Christmas spirit with many homes decorating with lights and extras. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)
Christmas lights tour mapped out by Vernon realtor

More than 20 of the community’s best lit houses make up annual tradition

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Salmon Arm RCMP say some patrons have been harassing local businesses over mask requirements. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Police urge respect after Salmon Arm businesses report being harassed over mask rules

Wearing of masks in businesses and public spaces is currently mandated by the province

Salmon Arm RCMP officers attended two public COVID-19 demonstrations held in Salmon Arm on Saturday, Nov. 28.  (File photo)
Organizer of Salmon Arm COVID-19 demonstration fined $2,000 by RCMP

Police said some participants weren’t aware of the public health order prohibiting gatherings

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Sunny the cat, who jumped out of the truck at the Revelstoke Landfill earlier this month, was quickly reunited with his owners. (Contributed)
Cat returns home with the help of two landfill workers

Sunny jumped out of the truck at the landfill in November

Most Read