Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash
Last week, Ontario released new regulations which would move elderly hospital patients awaiting long-term care into temporary nursing homes. Such legislation, formerly recognized as Bill-7, was titled “More Beds, Better Care Act” in hopes of clearing out hospital beds to make room for hefty waiting lists. The passing of this legislation was met with serious criticism.
This decision is a reaction to the shortage of available beds across hospitals in Ontario, with Ontario, notably, containing the fewest hospital beds out of any province in Canada. The province has seen nearly 5,000 beds, which is roughly 24 per cent, be occupied by patients waiting to be discharged, with almost 1,850 of those beds being occupied by individuals waiting to go into long-term care facilities. In addition to this, more than half of intensive care units across hospitals in Ontario are either full or only have one to two beds available.
Such statistics influenced Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government to come to a conclusion: starting Sept. 21, 2022, a charge of $400 per day or $2,800 per week will be given to patients that do not abide by the new legislation and move out of their hospitals. In addition to this, patients who are being forced out of their beds face the possibility of being sent up to 70 km away from their hospital in southern Ontario and up to 150 km away from hospitals in northern Ontario. Hospitals will also be removing the standard 30 to 60 day consultation period on the regulation.
Backlash is an understatement for what ensued following the release of this information.
Such a movement is being deemed an ageist attack against human rights, with the new law allowing patient assessment, the sharing of patient information, as well as admission of a patient into long-term care, all without consent.
“Patients—and specifically the frail elderly and those with chronic care needs—are being treated as though they are taking up resources wrongly. This is ageist and immoral. Those patients have the same human rights as any other patients,” was stated in a response to the bill shared with The Brock Press.
In addition to the forcing of patients into long-term care, such facilities are already facing a staffing crisis similar to the one being seen in hospitals, meaning that the moving of individuals into such facilities will only grant it further problems. Only a minority of Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients are waiting for long-term care, whereas many ALC patients are waiting for hospital beds, with a small number waiting for home care.
Advocates are arguing against the government’s so-called obliviousness, stating that the government has been downplaying the problems long-term care is already facing, while refusing to acknowledge the staffing crisis as a “crisis” altogether.
“There are a significant number of actions the government could take to deal with the crisis but it has chosen not to spend the money and is now, instead, violating the rights of mostly elderly patients,” was stated in the same bill response.
Such controversy is being followed after the unfortunate effects of the pandemic, which also separated and isolated individuals from one another. Advocates voicing their anger in response to the passing of Bill-7 hope to not have similar consequences repeat themselves in the future.
To learn more about the “More Beds, Better Care Act” and what individuals fighting against the legislation have to say, be sure to visit the fact checker & release on the Ontario Health Coalition’s website.