Long Term Care
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association urge our provincial government to petition the Government of Canada to make long term care and home care “medically necessary” services under the terms of the Canada Health Act.
WHEREAS hospital and physician care are covered by Medicare, long-term care and home care are not, there are long wait lists for subsidized care and inequity in our system where those who can pay more get better access;
WHEREAS costs borne by both the province and by the families of Alberta in caring for aging parents continue to increase and are unsustainable in the long-term; and
WHEREAS the aging demographic and chronic lack of adequate housing and care solutions for seniors demands innovative solutions and the development of creative alternatives.
The aging population in Alberta represents a growing need and concern for the care of seniors. There is an ongoing shortage of living facilities for seniors who require assisted living and support, and the private opportunities can be financially out of reach for many Albertan families. Families placing their aging parents into assisted living facilities can find their resources significantly stretched by the enormous associated costs.
Evidence-based research indicated that the fundamental causes of inferior or deficient care in aged care, particularly residential aged care, is that individuals do not reliably get the health care they deserve and need. The causes for substandard access to health care encompass lack of funding for proactive health care services provided to people at their place of residence, and an unwillingness by some health care providers to attend a person at their residence. A lack of clarity, and inconsistencies around the responsibilities of aged care and health care providers exists. These systemic issues are partly a result of the split in responsibilities for health care and aged care between federal and provincial governments.
S0144686X19001806jra 1145..1162 (cambridge.org) “In conclusion, we believe that the evidence presented here of life course trajectories of family care provides a foundation for understanding better patterns of care work across the life course”.
The Minister’s response does not respond directly to either resolution. Instead, the Minister lists ongoing initiatives intended to help seniors remain in their homes and delay the need to for facility-based care. These include:
- The Healthy Aging Alberta initiative, which focuses on sector development and coordination across community-based organizations delivering a variety of programs, services, information, and non-medical supports to older adults.
- A $3 million grant over three years to expand supports for caregivers during the pandemic and beyond.
- A $750,000 grant to the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council to support elder abuse prevention and intervention initiatives.
- A seniors’ mental health webinar series and age-friendly newsletters promoting mental health and addiction programs.
- Funding for initiatives that address social inclusion, social isolation, and mental wellness for diverse senior populations.
- Supporting the creation of an Alberta Age-Friendly Community of Practice, which helps communities in various stages of implementing their initiatives.
The Government of Alberta’s 2022 budget maintains, but does not increase, seniors’ financial supports. However, funding for community care, continuing care, and home care programs was increased by 6.3% to a total of nearly $3.7 billion. This funding will support more Albertans to receive care and support in their home communities, as well as to build 1,515 new continuing care beds.
In December 2021, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos was appointed Minister of Health Canada and mandated with negotiating agreements with provinces and territories to support efforts to improve the quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds. This mandate item includes working with provinces and territories to improve infection prevention and control measures, identifying shared principles, and developing national standards and a Safe Long-Term Care Act to ensure seniors get the care they deserve. The Minister is also tasked with working with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion Canada to train up to 50,000 new personal support workers and raise their wages. It's not clear whether provinces would be compelled to adopt and enforce the standards in federal legislation, or whether they would have the option of drafting their own revised standards
On March 28, 2022, Bill 11, the Continuing Care Act, was tabled in the Legislature. This bill will replace six pieces of legislation and six regulations, some dating back to 1985, and give more authority to the Minister of Health to monitor and enforce compliance in long-term care, supportive living, assisted living, home care, and palliative care. The bill was tabled in response to a 2021 MNP report on facility-based continuing care containing 42 recommendations. Recommendations included shifting to more home care, and increasing the hours of care provided to facility residents, which would mean hiring nearly 6,000 full-time equivalent staff at a potential cost of $410 million. The review projected the demand for continuing care services to grow by 62 per cent by 2030. New regulations and standards associated with the bill are anticipated to established by spring 2023. Bill 11 has been criticized by Friends of Medicare, who note the lack of provisions in the bill to address staff-to-patient ratios, mandate minimum care hours, or improve care and working conditions.
The ABMunis Board approved taking the following actions regarding the province’s response to the resolutions related to seniors:
- Categorize the responses as “intent not met – further action will be taken.”
- Reach out to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to learn about their advocacy on this issue and any provincial/territorial associations that could be advocacy partners on this issue.
- Request a meeting with Healthy Aging Alberta representatives to explore opportunities for joint advocacy and municipal action.
- Monitor the passage of Bill 11 in the Legislature and promote and participate in opportunities to provide input on the development of associated standards and regulations.
- Monitor federal budgeting and activities related to the development of national long-term care standards and a Safe Long-Term Care Act.