The Alberta government has launched a review of facility-based continuing care in the province. Its main mechanism for public input is a survey, conducted by accounting firm MNP. The survey itself is deeply flawed and reveals some disturbing directions the government is considering, including a significant privatization agenda across many areas of seniors’ care. The result, if these directions are embraced, will be much higher out-of-pocket costs for seniors and their families, and a system where quality care will depend even more on someone’s ability to pay, rather than their care needs.
We are encouraging Albertans to fill out the government survey and also to contact the Minister of Health’s office to express the concerns you have with the direction they’re considering. There are five main ways we see that the government could strengthen the continuing care system for all Albertans, and we hope these points can help guide the input you send to them:
- Get profits out of seniors’ care.
- Build a seniors’ care system that is easy to access and navigate.
- Legislate staff-to-patient ratios to ensure quality care. Working conditions for staff are care conditions for patients.
- Develop a system that cares for everyone, based on need, and not ability to pay. We need fewer out-of-pocket costs, not more.
- Legislate a Seniors’ Advocate position that is arms length from the government and whose focus is on reporting to the public on the state of the seniors’ care system.
by Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare and Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta
The continuing care system in Alberta and across the country is in crisis and seniors are suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally. After decades of increasing privatization, declining staff-to-patient ratios, and a chronically underpaid and stretched-thin workforce, the COVID-19 pandemic swept away any pretense of a functional care system and has thrown the myriad issues and dangers facing seniors into sharp relief.Read more
This October 1st marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons. This year, as we contend with the ongoing upheaval caused by the COVID-19 global health crisis, we must also bear witness to the suffering caused by the long-standing failures of our seniors’ care system.
Seniors have suffered the greatest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, and Alberta is no exception. To date 97% of COVID-related deaths have been Albertans aged 60 or older, including 165 residents in continuing care. In July, the Royal Society of Canada found that 81% of COVID-19 deaths nationwide were residents of long-term care homes—a rate far outpacing other countries. Further, the worst impacts have occurred in for-profit facilities, which have been found to have had “more extensive outbreaks and more deaths” than public facilities. COVID-19 has exposed the many shortcomings of our seniors’ care system, borne of decades of privatization and the inequity that perpetual cost-cutting has wrought. What we are seeing now was decades in the making.Read more
Today, Premier Rachel Notley announced that if re-elected, the Alberta New Democratic Party is committed to building an additional 2,000 long term care (LTC) beds. The promised $170 million investment is welcome news to a system that is currently facing serious shortages.Read more
EDMONTON - Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta premiered a series of four videos to kick off their new campaign Alberta Seniors Deserve Better, which highlights the issues facing seniors in the continuing care system, and encourages Albertans to sign a petition to call on all of Alberta’s political parties to make strengthening seniors’ care a top priority in the 2019 provincial election.Read more
Public Interest Alberta is pleased to release Priorities for Advancing the Public Interest.Read more
The Alberta government has released its 2018 budget, which includes effective cuts to most areas of public services, as spending fails to keep pace with inflation and population growth.
“The piecemeal cuts to public services in the budget take Alberta in the wrong direction, but the striking thing is what is not in the budget,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Absent are many things Albertans need, like improved classroom conditions in schools and addressing the shortage of long-term care beds for seniors.”
Our province needs to move forward, not backward, and it needs to do so by moving in more fair, equitable, and effective directions, both in terms of public services and tax revenue in this budget.Read more
EDMONTON - Public Interest Alberta is attending a Government of Alberta consultation regarding the 2018 provincial budget in order to encourage major changes in the province’s approach to revenue and spending.Read more
Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta welcomes a change in continuing care today with the announcement from Alberta Health that they will now be operating the Mountain View Centre supportive living services in Hinton. The facility is currently operated by the private not-for-profit Good Samaritan Society.Read more