Improvements to long-term care delivery in Simcoe County are coming due to advocacy efforts by Simcoe County Council and industry partners, including AdvantAge Ontario.
Staffing in long-term care is at a crisis point for most homes throughout Ontario and this places a significant burden on the system for the province as a whole. However, new policy directions in long-term care funding are expected to provide needed stability for long-term care homes over the next year while the sector continues to work collaboratively with the province to ensure residents’ needs are at the forefront. The province announced, after consultation with stakeholders, that it will continue the Structural Compliance Premium (SCP) to March 31, 2020 while it launches consultations this fall on what a new minor capital program might look like. The province is also continuing the High Wage Transition Fund (HWTF) to December 31, 2020 as it works diligently to develop a long-term care staffing strategy. Both programs, previously cancelled, left municipalities and operators struggling to find funding avenues. The province has recognized funding gaps and is now working to come up with more comprehensive solutions.
Virtually all long-term care homes throughout Ontario are struggling to retain qualified staff. This means Ontarians are greatly affected by these province-wide challenges in long-term care. As our communities age, in Simcoe County seniors represent the fastest growing age-demographic. New funding and new thinking around solutions for long-term care are at a critical point in Ontario. The government has recognized that retention and recruitment strategies around workers in this industry are key factors towards its survival and success. It is anticipated that this new direction taken by the Government of Ontario will support the industry in creating a better work environment to retain necessary staff.
At an August meeting, County Council approved recommendations to employ an annual funding stabilization payment to bridge the gap that would have resulted from the original cancellation announced by the province. As a result of the recent provincial announcements, the County of Simcoe will maintain $846,777 in provincial funding for HWTF and SCP in 2019/20 to ensure care levels and facilities are maintained for the continued safety, quality and security of this vulnerable population.
“This is great news for our residents, our four homes and all long-term care operators in Ontario,” said Jane Sinclair, County of Simcoe General Manager of Health and Emergency Services as well as board chair for AdvantAge Ontario. “We continue to face funding pressures that impact staffing, programs and ultimately the level of care we can provide. We thank the province for this major direction in funding and for listening to our concerns while supporting long-term care residents across the province.”
“Simcoe County Council was ready to step up to the plate and help fill the funding gap with a short-term solution for our four long-term care homes,” said Warden George Cornell. “It’s encouraging that this government continues to listen to municipal service providers and work with us to find both short- and long-term solutions that are efficient and sustainable and ultimately keeps in mind the care of residents and resource needs of our long-term care homes. We thank the Government of Ontario for this important funding announcement.”