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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Letter: Tough financial penalties will get attention of for-profit care homes

Dear editor:

Before Christmas someone wrote regarding his objection to the recommendation by MPP Wayne Gates that the Ontario government take over the management of nursing homes.

The writer suggested that the key issue is the government is not properly inspecting nursing homes. I disagree with that conclusion.

The media has reported that Roberta Place, a for-profit nursing home in Barrie, has had numerous recent inspections that did not result in compliance by the operator. Of the 129 residents, 128 tested positive and 54 died.

Currently in Ontario, general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and ambulance services are funded, but not managed by the government. These health services are all not-for-profit and many have unionized staff.

The management of these services do not cut corners to make a profit for shareholders. Could it be that for-profit nursing homes should be spending some of their own profits to ensure that the homes are managed in the best interest of their residents?

At least one for-profit nursing home company increased its dividend by 40+ per cent since 2015. Could it also be that penalties for infractions that inspectors find in for-profit nursing homes are insufficient, or non-existent, to give for-profit nursing homes an incentive to correct deficiencies? Could it be that the profit motive is counter to providing the best care for nursing home residents?

Given that in the past 20 years, the government has transferred its direct management of psychiatric hospitals and ambulance services to other non-profit entities, the government will not take over for-profit nursing homes. In short, increased inspections and the government takeover of for-profit nursing homes won’t solve the problem.

The most efficient way to get for-profit nursing homes to comply, and overcome the resistance of the industry, would be to pass legislation with monetary penalties and a licence revocation option when non-compliance occurs.

Your move, MPP Gates.

Joseph Allevato


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