2017 Ontario Budget Takes Important Steps for Home and Community Care
But Not-For-Profit Agencies Struggle To Meet Growing Demand
TORONTO, April 28, 2017 – Yesterday’s 2017 Ontario Budget – characterized as a “booster shot” for the health care system – made valuable investments in home and community care which will make a difference for clients, caregivers, and the entire health system. However, investment in the not-for-profit organizations that provide this vital frontline care is still needed to ensure services can be sustained in future.
The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) welcomes the government’s investment of $250 million in home and community care this year. They also applaud investment of $100 million over three years into a provincial dementia strategy, and supports for unpaid family caregivers – including additional respite care, training and education, and a refreshed tax credit. These forward-thinking investments will serve the province well as the population ages and more Ontarians require these services. Home and community care also eases the burden on hospitals and long-term care homes by reducing emergency room visits, freeing up beds, and helping clients stay in their own homes safely.
OCSA represents 270 not-for-profit organizations that provide over 25 different home care and community support services including nursing visits, personal support services, Meals on Wheels, seniors’ exercise and transportation programs, respite care, and adult day programs.
In recent years, the province has deliberately moved more care into community settings, but this shift has not been accompanied by a proportional shift in operational funding to the frontline organizations that actually provide that care. Under an operational funding freeze for up to seven consecutive years, many have been forced to create waitlists, reduce services, increase client fees or delay important training or quality improvement initiatives.
OCSA had requested a modest 2% increase to the operational base funding of home care and community support services providers. While the budget does provide a welcome $18 million in new funding for community support services, it will be up to each Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to decide how the funds should be distributed. The budget also includes additional home care service hours, but no operational support for the organizations that provide that care.
“Increased supports for seniors, people living with dementia, and family caregivers wonderful,” says Deborah Simon, CEO. “But the hundreds of local charities and non-profits we need in order to actually deliver these services are struggling to keep up with demand.”
This concern is heightened by a recent decision to drop a regulation that would have protected the not-for-profit delivery of government-funded community support services. As written, a loophole in the new Patients First Act would allow for-profit companies to step in.
Still, OCSA is optimistic about collaborating with the province and the LHINs to protect and strengthen the home and community support sector.
“Ontarians want and deserve the opportunity to live independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible,” says Simon. “The government clearly supports that vision; they need to work closely with health care providers to make it a reality.”
Across the province each year, over one million people receive home care and community support services – and the need is growing. The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) represents 270 not-for-profit organizations that provide home care and community support services that help seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. These compassionate and cost-effective services improve quality of life and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and premature institutionalization. They are the key to a sustainable health care system for Ontario. For more information, visit www.ocsa.on.ca.
For more information please contact:
Ontario Community Support Association
416-256-3010 x 242