This week the province was shocked to learn of the tragic deaths of 8 Ontario nursing home residents at the hands of another. To make matters worse, the suspect is a caregiver in the employ of the long-term care facilities where the residents lived. Without doubt the sympathies of us all go out to the families and loved ones of these individuals.
This week during question period my colleagues questioned Premier Wynne on what plans the government has to improve care for residents in Ontario’s long-term care homes. Recently an Ontario family took their father, Mr. Arthur Jones, into a private for-profit long-term care nursing home. Soon after moving into the home, Mr. Jones suffered from malnutrition and dehydration and he fell repeatedly. Mr. Jones spent his final week, in excruciating pain, in hospital. This unfortunate incident resulted in the family taking court action in an effort to hold those responsible accountable and to ensure this does not happen to anyone else. Ontarians ask how this can happen to a resident living in a long-term care home that is recognized by the Province. We must do better to ensure the health, safety and comfort of our seniors.
This Liberal government has had plenty of opportunity to act on these problems. Families have demanded change for years. The Coroner, after investigating numerous homicides in the afore mentioned case, has called for more staff to provide bedside care. Frontline workers know that residents need a guaranteed minimum standard of care. What will it take for this government to finally step up and prevent anyone else from suffering the indignity and pain that too many seniors have suffered in a private, for-profit long-term care homes?
New Democrats will be introducing a Private Member’s Bill, A time to Care. Residents in Ontario’s long-term care homes need more hands-on nursing care and personal support services, and this bill will ensure they get it. Families and frontline workers in long-term care homes have been advocating for years to restore minimum hours of care and ensure long-term care residents have the supports they need to live in comfort and dignity. The most recent report on long-term care from Ontario’s Chief Coroner also recommends that the government address the urgent need to increase the availability of staff for bedside care.
On the energy front, the Liberals continue on their path to sell-off our public electrical utility, all the while bankrupting local businesses and causing thousands of Ontarians to face financial ruin due to skyrocketing electrical bills. This week during Question Period, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath challenged the Premier and the Finance Minister to guarantee that the $2.6 billion dollar tax break they gave to Hydro One when it was privatized be passed on to people who are struggling to keep up with their skyrocketing hydro bills.
People are struggling to get by and higher and higher hydro rates are making things harder. Every time I travel throughout the riding I hear stories of families having to choose between saving for their kids futures, or paying their hydro bills; between putting food on their tables or keeping the heat on in the winter. Ontarians want to know where their Premier’s priorities are: with them or with private, for-profit shareholders.
It is interesting to note that Hydro One has warned their new shareholders that the OEB could actually force them to ensure that the benefit of this $2.6 billion goes to ratepayers instead of private, for-profit shareholders. The question is, is the Premier going to stand with Hydro One’s private investors, or is she going to stand with the people of Ontario?
New Democrats have called upon the government to commit to causing the OEB to put forward a directive to Hydro One so that the savings they will see as a result of that tax break, that $2.6 billion, is actually used to directly benefit all Ontarians. Unfortunately the Minister of Finance was only able to reply that the benefit would be used to “facilitate greater value for [the] corporation” instead of reducing rates. Once again, the Liberals are seen to be looking out for the interests of their wealthy friends rather than the citizens of Ontario who elected them to look out for all of us.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.