An excerpt from a debate on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 between Health Minister Terry Lake and Judy Darcy, NDP spokesperson on health care, about care standards at seniors care facilities. Selina Robinson, the NDP spokesperson for local government and sports, and seniors, also took part.
J. Darcy: This government would love nothing better than to have British Columbians forget about their sorry record on the deficit they’ve created in services for people, under their sorry record for the last 15 years.
The fact is that the abysmal record of this government in seniors care means that seniors care hours have gone down, not up, in the last year. In 2015, according to the seniors advocate, it was only 82 percent of care homes where the government’s own staffing standard of 3.36 hours of care per resident per day was being met. This year, 91 percent of care homes are not meeting the government’s own standard — 91 percent.
Yesterday we talked about Lana Turner, who relies on home support and who hadn’t been able to get a bath in 51 days — seven weeks. Well, the reality is that in seniors care homes, there are seniors who are going without baths, sometimes, for two or three or even four weeks.
When is this government going to take responsibility for the crisis it has created in seniors care and make sure that seniors get the dignified care that they deserve?
Hon. T. Lake: Over $800 million — those are the additional dollars in the Ministry of Health budget announced yesterday. Over $800 million — that’s the increase the Ministry of Health received yesterday. And as the member knows, a large, large percentage of health care goes directly to seniors. In our increase that we received yesterday — a record level of increased dollars to spend on health care in this province — we will see increased services to seniors in residential care, in home care, in primary care that’s directed specifically to seniors in this province.
In other ministries — in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure — an increased number of handyDART hours that directly help seniors. In Victoria, over 4,000 more hours. In Kelowna and Kamloops, over 2,000 more hours of handyDART service. We are committed to serving seniors in the province of British Columbia.
Madame Speaker: The member for New Westminster on a supplemental.
J. Darcy: This minister and this government refuse to take responsibility for the fact that seniors care has gotten worse, not better. It is a national disgrace — what’s happening to seniors in the province of British Columbia. There’s no other word for it.
Front-line health care workers, seniors groups, B.C. care providers came to the Legislature this week looking for a solid commitment in the budget for seniors care, and there wasn’t one word in the budget about seniors care — not one word.
We’re told that the Minister of Health wasn’t on side for the federal health deal, so maybe he wasn’t on side for the provincial budget either.
Again, to the minister: will the minister finally take responsibility for the systemic crisis his government has created in seniors care and act to ensure that our parents, our grandparents and our loved ones get the dignified care that they deserve?
Hon. T. Lake: The care of our seniors is critically important for this government. The member opposite and I were at the B.C. Care Providers Awards this week, honouring the amazing people that work in home care, in residential care, looking after our seniors.
We’re the first province in Canada to have an office of the seniors advocate. Our seniors advocate has presented a series of reports upon which we have acted. Important changes to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act allow people to stay in assisted living longer and reduce the need to go into residential care prematurely.
Together with the federal government, with our agreement signed, there will be over $700 million over the next 10 years directed towards home care and other seniors services.
A record increase in the health care budget — much of that will directly benefit seniors in the province of British Columbia. And over 90 percent of seniors in this province will benefit from a massive decrease in MSP premiums. This budget is a seniors budget, and we are proud of that.
S. Robinson: A seniors budget, and you don’t even mention the word “senior”? I heard a completely different budget.
In the Fraser Health region, only 13 of 79 facilities are meeting the minimum staffing benchmark for seniors care. That’s just 16 percent. That’s actually the best record of all five health authorities in this province — a mere 16 percent meeting the minimum standard of care hours. In the Interior Health Authority, only five of 75 facilities meet the minimum standard of care. On the Island, it’s only two of 59 — two.
I want to ask the minister when seniors can expect adequate residential care in this province?
Hon. T. Lake: Again, we are spending record levels on health care, and a large portion of that, of course, is directed to our seniors. On top of the acute care that we provide are the home and community supports and the residential care supports that we provide. All of those are increasing. This budget sees the largest increase ever in terms of dollars in our health care budget, much of it directed towards seniors.
We are happy to come to an agreement with Ottawa for home and community care that will see directed, targeted funding for seniors care. The members opposite will see that plan as it is developed over the next few weeks, now that this agreement has been signed, and there’ll be lots of good news in it for seniors care in the province of British Columbia.
S. Robinson: The B.C. Liberals have been in power for 16 years. The benchmark for hours of care per resident per day is 3.36 hours of care, and 91 percent of facilities aren’t meeting those necessary care hours. I think that’s disgraceful.
What does this mean when 91 percent of the facilities that this government is responsible for funding don’t get sufficient funds to make sure that there is sufficient staff? Well, it means that seniors can’t get a proper bath. It means that they have to sit in a chair for longer than they want. It could mean that they sit for hours because there’s no one to assist them to move to another part of the facility. It also might mean that they sit in soiled clothing for longer than they care to.
These are all indignities to the seniors of our province. Again, I want to know from this government when seniors will finally get the care they deserve from these B.C. Liberals?
Hon. T. Lake: I will happily compare the record over the last 16 years on every file in health care, versus the 1990s, when you could not find a placement in residential care. We have added 6,500 publicly subsidized residential care, assisted-living and group home beds since 2001. Health authorities invested $2.9 billion in home and community care in 2015-16. That’s an 88 percent increase since 2001.
Other benefits for seniors. We mentioned the MSP reductions that over 90 percent of seniors will benefit from. I’m told of, around the province, over 100,000 more hours of handyDART service. And a historic agreement with the federal government will see targeted funds directed at home and community care. We will continue to make sure that our valued seniors are looked after in the province of British Columbia.
- Source: B.C. Hansard.