Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting that provinces that don’t want to work with Ottawa to improve standards in long-term care homes won’t get federal funding. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting that provinces that don’t want to work with Ottawa to improve standards in long-term care homes won’t get federal funding. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

No funds for provinces that don’t agree to improve long-term care standards, PM hints

He said Ottawa will help them cover the costs of those improvements

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting that provinces that don’t want to work with Ottawa to improve standards in long-term care homes won’t get federal funding.

In a year-end interview Wednesday with The Canadian Press, Trudeau said his government will “happily partner” with provinces and territories that want to boost standards in long-term care facilities.

And he said Ottawa will help them cover the costs of those improvements.

But he warned that provinces that don’t choose to take the federal government up on that offer will have some explaining to do to their own populations.

“The provinces that don’t choose to give their seniors the highest level of standards will be asked questions on that by the folks who are sending their moms and dads into those senior centres,” Trudeau said.

“And it will become a difficult answer for them to give.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deplorable conditions in some long-term care homes, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. Reports on conditions in the worst-hit homes have revealed appalling examples of neglect, abuse and unsanitary conditions.

Residents of long-term care facilities account for more than than 80 per cent of the COVID-19 deaths in Canada.

Delivery of health care is a provincial area of responsibility and some premiers, particularly Quebec’s Francois Legault, have strenuously objected to idea of the federal government setting national standards for long-term care facilities or setting any conditions on funding provided for health care.

The premiers have unanimously demanded that Ottawa immediately increase its annual, unconditional health transfers to provinces and territories by at least $28 billion a year, money that is sent with no strings attached.

“I don’t see what the federal government knows about nursing homes,” Legault said last week after Trudeau failed to acquiesce to the premiers’ demand during a daylong, first ministers’ video conference.

“If he wants to help with nursing homes and hospitals, he has to boost recurring funding.”

Legault’s views have been echoed by other premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe. But premiers in the Atlantic provinces been more open to the idea of federal funding specifically tied to improving conditions in long-term care homes.

In the interview Wednesday, Trudeau appeared to signal that his government will negotiate separately with each province and territory that is willing to accept additional, targeted funding for long-term care — much as it did to target funding for mental health and home care a few years ago.

“The approach we have as a federal government is to first start looking at what the best practices are in certain jurisdictions that do have stronger standards than others,” he said.

“And work with the jurisdictions who want to, to increase their standards to the best possible level. And the federal government to be there to help them with the extra costs involved in getting up to that level … So we will happily partner and work with the provinces as we have during this pandemic.”

Trudeau acknowledged that long-term care is a provincial jurisdiction. But he said: “The dignity of elders, the safety of seniors, doesn’t really have much of a jurisdiction. Not when you talk about their lives.”

He noted that the federal government sent the military and Canadian Red Cross to help in overwhelmed long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec last spring, at the request of those provinces.

“I guess, theoretically we could have said, ‘No, it’s your area, you deal with it.’ No. The federal government is going to be there to look out for every single Canadian and that means, yes, working with the premiers.”

Trudeau said standards in long-term care vary across the country and from facility to facility within provinces.

“And I don’t think that’s right. I think every senior in this country, regardless of where they live, should feel confident that if they go into the long-term care centre that they get accepted in, down the street or across the road or on the other side of town, they don’t have to worry that ‘Oh, maybe that’s one of the bad ones’ or ‘Maybe I’m lucky enough to have gotten into one of the good ones,”’ he said.

“There needs to be a sense that in this country we ensure that every single senior gets to age in dignity and in safety and we’re not there.”

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusSeniors

Just Posted

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

This parking on the east side of Martin Street will be removed permanently Monday morning (June 21, 2021) to put in the Lake to Lake bike lane. (City of Penticton)
Parking removed permanently to make way for bike lane in downtown Penticton

Work begins Monday morning to replace parking spots with bike lane on Martin Street

Gord Portman getting ready for the Father’s Day dunk tank fundraiser for Discovery House. So far Portman has raised $3,000. (Facebook)
Penticton man takes the plunge for recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read