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

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read