Letter: Where is the mindset that puts beer ahead of a health system in crisis?

A call to express discontent with the health minister and demand concrete steps

To the Expositor:

As I look with disgust at our provincial Minister of Health and Long Term Care (MOLTC), Christine Elliott, spending the taxpayers’ dollars for her to be in an ad campaign to promote beer sales in Ontario corner stores I wonder just where her mindset is at even being a part of something like that when her own sector remains in crisis and is definitely not serving the needs of Ontarian’s as it should be!

As part of the Tory’s new “People’s Healthcare Act” and its mandate of a healthcare “super agency,” one reduction that this Act will bring about is to reduce over-site by the MOLTC’s compliance department for Ontario’s long term care facilities! It is a very sad fact that many long-term care homes in this province suffer under administrations and executives at both the operational and board levels who will feed off this big reduction to necessary oversight. 

As has been reported in media and investigative airings such a W5, corruption in the management of some Ontario LTC homes is a very real concern and with little or no oversight it will continue and even increase in this province with results such as the poor treatment and emotional abuse of workers. This huge stress on workers will facilitate even further burn out causing many workers to be forced out of an already grossly understaffed sector. This in-turn will reflect down to a poorer quality of care for LTC patients/residents which should be of great concern to all of us!

This is not 100 percent the case in all LTC homes nor with all management personnel and executives, but today’s trend shows that it is on the rise and removing the biggest percentage of oversight will just take this issue from bad to worse!

Yes the LHINs, which the super agency is replacing, were not perfect. They were top heavy with executives with redundant positions like vice presidents which were created with no real purpose, but the LHINs were local versus now what is to be basically a provincial super agency. The LHINs should have been reduced down in executive and management personnel and liaison positions created using front-line healthcare representatives from the hospital, LTC and public health sectors. Now with the super agencies, small local areas like Manitoulin will be grossly under-represented!

What we now see emerging from Doug Ford and Christine Elliott’s MOLTC are existing agencies such as the notorious AdvantAge Ontario now becoming puppet agencies with a mandate to spread Tory propaganda to health care boards of directors and administrations across this province while charging them huge membership fees and demanding that they keep the internal contents of The Peoples Health Care Act confidential from front-line workers, patients(residents) and their families!

As a retired LTC PSW who remembers very well what the reality really was when the Mike ‘The Knife’ Harris slash’n burn policies hit Ontario’s healthcare system, the last time a Tory provincial government cut loose on our valued public service sectors we have never really recovered from Harris’s attacks and on a personal note, I am a firm believer that those attacks, followed by years of Liberal government underfunding, was the major cause of both today’s healthcare and LTC crises!

The present LTC crisis is a very sad and very real fact. Highlighting this crisis is the ever-increasing shortage of LTC nursing staff of all classifications: RNs, RPNs and PSWs. Just to try and keep their heads above water, LTC homes are forced to use agency nursing services, most of which the home not only has to pay a healthy fee for but also has to compensate the individual agency employee with lodgings and mileage!

As the Tory’s brag about their intentions to create thousands of LTC bed spaces they make no mention what-so-ever of any incentives or plans to improve staffing levels and numbers and absolutely nothing on the ever critical minimum standard of care for LTC homes. So really, the same crisis issues and situations will simply multiply by adding more beds without the support and back-up to staff them properly.

I implore you, if you care about really putting an end to the healthcare and LTC crises, take the time to call, write or email Minister Christine Elliott and express strongly your discontent with the direction the Tory government is taking in regards to the healthcare and LTC crisis and demand that more concrete steps, such as a minimum standard of care for LTC homes be initiated immediately along with a system to provide equal representation to all areas of Ontario, including ours of Manitoulin Island!

Thank you,

Greg Young