POLL: Two in three Canadians support nationalization of long-term care facilities
A new poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute has found that 66 percent of Canadians believe the government should nationalize – or take over- long-term care facilities.
NDP, Liberal, and Bloc voters are overwhelmingly in favour of nationalization. Conservative Party voters, however, are split – 47 percent support the idea, whereas 53 percent say they oppose it.
The private ownership of nursing homes has become a hot-button issue in recent months, with the COVID-19 crisis exposing the horrific state of Canada’s long-term care system.
The most recent estimates link 82 percent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths to long-term care. Further analysis has also shown that private, for-profit nursing homes have four times as many COVID-19 deaths as publicly operated facilities.
During the COVID-19 crisis, private nursing homes in Ontario have been accused of denying PPE to staff, failing to comply with public health guidance, and neglecting their residents. Calls for an end to private, for-profit long term care have been growing as a consequence.
Since long-term care currently falls under provincial jurisdiction, changes could be inconsistent across the country. Provinces with Conservative governments, which have traditionally pushed for more privatization of health services, could be a potential political roadblock.
The Ontario government, in particular, has strong ties to the private long-term care industry.
Former Progressive Conservative Premier, Mike Harris, is the chairman of one of the largest companies in the sector. The current Ford government has also been accused of granting preferential treatment to private nursing home companies, having largely scaled back the annual inspections nursing homes were subject to.
There are, however, calls for a national path forward to ending for-profit long term care. The National Union of Public and General Employees has called on the federal government to extend the Canada Health Act to long-term care facilities. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has backed the idea.
“Profit should not be the motive when it comes to how we care for our seniors” says Singh.