Ontario Introducing New Legislation to Fix Long-Term Care
The Ontario government is introducing legislation that would improve the well-being of residents in long-term care and retirement homes, and ensure they get the care they deserve. If passed, the Providing More Care, Protecting Seniors, and Building More Beds Act, 2021 would repeal the current Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 and create the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021. The Bill also includes proposed amendments to the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. “Ontario has listened to the advice of the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission and the Auditor General — as well as residents, their families, the public and those working in the sector,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care. “After decades of neglect and underfunding by previous governments, we are fixing long-term care. This legislation, if passed, would protect our progress by supporting our commitments to increase staffing for more hours of direct care, enhance accountability, and build more modern beds.” The government has a plan to fix long-term care and to ensure Ontario’s seniors get the quality of care they need and deserve both now and in the future. The plan is built on three pillars: staffing and care; accountability, enforcement, and transparency; and building modern, safe, comfortable homes for seniors. If the Bill is passed, the proposed Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 would support the government’s plan to fix long-term care by:
establishing the commitment to provide an average of four hours of daily direct care per resident per day by March 31, 2025
strengthening the Residents’ Bill of Rights to align with the Ontario Human Rights Code and recognizing the role caregivers play in resident health and well-being
implementing new requirements for annual resident, family, and caregiver surveys
establishing new compliance and enforcement tools, including doubling the fines on the conviction of an offence under the proposed legislation
introducing a Minister’s review of a Director’s decision in the licensing process.
COVID-19 has also been extremely difficult for people living in retirement homes, who have experienced isolation and loss of community and social connections due to the pandemic. To improve the well-being of retirement home residents, the government is proposing legislative changes to the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 that would, if passed, increase transparency and promote consumer choice and resident protection so that residents are better informed and benefit from a more effective Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority. “There are almost 60,000 Ontarians residing in retirement homes across this province and we want to ensure they get the best care possible,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “The Retirement Homes Act legislation, if passed, would ensure greater protection and better quality of care for residents and their families.” The government will release its plan to protect Ontario’s progress against COVID-19 and for building the foundation for the province’s recovery and prosperity in the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review on Thursday, November 4.
If the Bill is passed, the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 would replace the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007.
Ontario is investing $20 million this year to hire 193 new inspections staff and is launching a new annual proactive inspections program in long-term care homes. The new program focuses on residents’ rights, infection prevention and control, plans of care, abuse and neglect, nutrition and hydration, medication management, policies and directives, and dining observations.
Currently, close to 70,000 Ontarians live in 626 long-term care homes and more than 60,000 Ontarians live in over 770 licensed retirement homes across the province.
As of June 2021, more than 38,000 people were on the waitlist to access a long-term care bed in Ontario. The median wait time is 163 days for applicants to be placed in long-term care.