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

Oyster Harbour long term care home in Ladysmith received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. (Cole Schisler photo)
Oyster Harbour staff and residents receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccines

Staff were given the Pfizer vaccine, and residents were given the Moderna vaccine

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Mount Brenton Golf Course business boomed in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

The landing page of the new redesign of ladysmith.ca. (Town of Ladysmith photo)
Town of Ladysmith touts redesigned website

The mobile-friendly website will improve online service delivery for site users

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read