Families task force feels Manitoba budget fails to address issues identified in care home review

WINNIPEG — A volunteer group of family members of personal care home residents watched closely as the provincial budget came down on Wednesday.

A review into a deadly outbreak commissioned by the province called for more funding for staffing and pandemic planning.

“I’m disappointed,” said Eddie Calisto-Tavares, who heads up the Families Voices Task Force. “I don’t see anything specifically for those 17 recommendations.

“There was a lot of things in there that require money, that require additional commitment on funding.”

People living in Manitoba’s personal care homes were hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19 during the second wave.

An external review into the deadly outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home called on Manitoba Health to mandate and fund a province-wide healthcare system response for pandemic outbreaks to reduce fragmentation and delays.

It also recommended a robust workforce plan and a review of funding to ensure staffing levels and services meet the needs of current and future residents.

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the province has to do better when it comes to supporting care homes – specifically after the deadly outbreak at the Maples.

“There was no mention of the Maples in the budget today,” Kinew said. “We all resolved that we were going to improve long term care. We resolved that we were going to fix the problems in personal care homes here in Manitoba, but that is not in the budget today.

“It is the same as what was there before, and what was there before got us into real trouble during Manitoba’s second wave.”

Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday he’d be discussing long term care in a call with the Prime Minister.

“There was disproportionate hardship and death caused during this pandemic because of some of the issues I think we must, and we owe it to our seniors, to do a better job of,” Pallister said.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding said this year’s budget does contain $9 million for 120 new personal care home beds in Steinbach and Carman.

Fielding said there’ll be a focus on the small house model of care.

“We think that makes sense,” said Fielding. “We think you need to kind of move towards a smaller setting…so there is additional resources.”

Calisto-Tavares sees it as a step in the right direction but one that doesn’t go far enough.

“We need the same type of commitment and funding for Winnipeg, so that we can start restructuring some of these large homes,” she said. “So, residents can have their own private room.”

Calisto-Tavares said she’s also disappointed there was no mention of a seniors advocate.

She said she’ll continue pressing the government to make sure all 17 recommendations in the review get fully implemented.

Both the finance minister and premier suggested some of the issues identified in personal care homes may be dealt with through pandemic and health-related spending. 

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