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January 19, 2024

“There’s no place like home.”

Whether you are a doctor, nurse, cab driver, teacher or salesperson, we all understand that, along with the pleasures and perks that come with our jobs, we must accept headaches and heartaches. That’s just life.

For me, one of the recurring heartaches is when I meet face to face with seniors facing moving from their home into a senior residence - before they feel ready to do so. I meet so many incredible men and women who value their lifestyle and enjoy the comforts and freedom of living in their own homes. These are people who truly take pride in their independence. They feel it is where they belong.

I primarily focus on Northern issues and perspectives and bring the voices of the Northern Ontarians I represent to Queen’s Park. In last week’s column, I shared with readers the realities that I faced during several face-to-face meeting tour with hospital officials throughout Algoma-Manitoulin. Many of my thoughts were confirmed, and I also learned a great deal. It was time well spent.

I am also concerned about senior care issues. While assisted living in a facility is what many seniors need, it is not the best situation for everyone. Thousands of seniors just need a little assistance to continue living independently with dignity in their own homes. But sometimes, family members are just not able to provide the required help. Our seniors deserve to enjoy a lifestyle of freedom and happiness. And the good news is that providing such care in their own homes costs only a fraction of what institutional care does.

Like many MPPs, I have long been concerned about the physical and mental health and the security of our seniors. However, here in the North, we understand that distance, geography, and economics create heart-wrenching challenges for us in Algoma-Manitoulin. This huge riding is comprised of many small, rural Northern communities. So when people do find themselves or a loved one who can no longer live in their home unassisted, there is often little choice but for the senior to move to a distant care home, which can leave them feeling isolated, lonely and depressed.

Sometimes, people ask me why our society should feel obligated to provide care for our elders. I have no difficulty responding with several good reasons. I found an interesting article on a website called Big Hearts – Adult Daycare and Assisted Living. The article offered standard points like “They made sacrifices for you” and “They are your parents.” But the essay also provided some very thoughtful points, including:

·       We learn from them.

·       We gain insight into their values.

·       It helps us understand our heritage.

·       We all need a sense of belongingness.

·       Everyone needs to have a purpose in their life.

They completed the list with a bonus reason, declaring, “It’s the right thing to do.” You might want to check it out yourself online.

An article by Dr. Patricia Spindel, entitled Rural and Northern Home Care: An Essential Service For Seniors, appeared in the December 7, 2023 issue of the Sudbury Star. The article addressed the senior care issue from a Northern perspective. Doctor Spindel wrote, “Almost all of those older than 45 have said they want to remain at home with needed supports as they age. Far fewer think that is possible in light of current Ontario government funding priorities.”

All of us are aware of the horror stories of death and sorrow emanating from private for-profit senior care facilities during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the government has not made much headway in addressing the lack of care in such facilities. Dr. Spindel’s research found, “Six times as much new funding has been given to the predominantly for-profit long-term institutional sector than to home care -$6.4 billion to build and refurbish more institutions where no one wants to end up and few want to work.” She went on to say that, shamefully, “Only $1 billion to home care, where most want to receive care as they age.”

So, here’s the thing. Knowing that most people don’t want to live in senior for-profit facilities and that such accommodations cost six times more than assisting people to live in their own homes, why does Premier Ford continue to think his government’s plan is a good one? If this is not proof that the government of Ontario is not listening to its people, I don’t know what is.

Ontario needs a drastic change of direction in its senior care policy.

We should be investing in training more people to work in home care settings. Currently, finding home care workers is akin to searching for the holy grail - especially if you live in a Northern or rural community. Ontario should reduce and redirect funding spent on training and support for institutional care in favour of home care training. Besides saving money, this would reduce the spread of viral infections and allow for the development of familiar and caring relationships between workers, patients and families. And, most importantly, patients and families could feel content and confident knowing that their loved ones are safe and living happily in the comfort of their own homes.

Sometimes, I admit that our healthcare and senior care problems seem hopelessly mired in profit-driven privatization trends. But such thinking is wrong. The system can still be fixed with determination and foresight if taken one step at a time with a shakeup and refocusing of government policymakers. None of us, including me, can allow ourselves to shrug our shoulders and go with the flow. It is up to all of us to speak up and tell Premier Ford that our loved ones deserve better and that this responsibility lies in his hands.

I’ll leave you with this heartfelt quote by social worker and author Wendy Lustbader:

“Caring for aging parents is like a dance, a delicate balance between supporting and guiding them while also respecting their independence and autonomy.”

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at or by phone Toll-free at 1-800-831-1899.       

Michael Mantha MPP/député       


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