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Liberals bungle long-term care bed file

(March 9, 2017) The lack of long-term care beds in Simcoe-Grey is one of the most common complaints that I hear about as your Member of Provincial Parliament.

In fact, just about every day someone writes or calls my office to tell me about the trouble they have finding a bed in this province.

Sadly, this problem is not unique to Simcoe-Grey.

Many of my colleagues from around the province talk about similar problems in their ridings.

Frankly, it's a disgraceful situation and the Liberals are responsible for allowing it to happen.

Not too long ago, I wrote government officials and asked them to, "explain what...the plans are to build more long-term care beds in Simcoe-Grey."

Although they did not give me a direct response about our riding, here is what they did say:
"Under the Enhanced Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy, we are supporting the redevelopment of more than 30,000 LTC beds in approximately 300 LTC homes to current design standards by 2025."

That sounds nice but it makes no mention of investing in new beds.

And it's this lack of new beds that has created countless problems for Ontario seniors and their families.

In 2008, I tried to address the need for new long-term care beds in our riding. I introduced a Private Member's Resolution that called on the Liberal government to build more beds in Simcoe-Grey.

Unfortunately, the government took the partisan road and voted down the resolution. What they should have done was take ownership of the issue and promise to do something about it.

For too long, the Liberals have ignored the needs of our seniors and their caregivers, resulting in a system that is ill-prepared to meet the requirements of our aging population.

If you are in doubt about the situation we face, talk to any one of the many people in our riding who can't find a long-term care bed for their loved one, or can't find one in the facility of their choice.

In our riding and right across the province, people can wait years for a basic bed and that's just wrong. It's cruel to the individual in need of care and it's a stressful situation to place loved ones in.

This issue becomes even more pressing when you factor in the unique needs of Ontario seniors living with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Recently, as part of its pre-budget submission, the Ontario Long Term Care Association told the Liberal government that the number of seniors who will need access to long-term care homes is expected to double over the next 20 years.

We can only hope that Premier Wynne is paying attention.

Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.

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