July 18th, 2024

Ganley promises to regulate health care facilities if elected

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on April 2, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

NDP leadership candidate Kathleen Ganley is promising to regulate private care operators if she emerges from the party race victorious and secures a win for her party in the next provincial election.

The NDP under her stewardship would invest only in public long-term care, says the MLA for Calgary-Mountain View.

Ganley believes residents of long-term care facilities in Alberta are being abandoned by the present government.

“It is incredibly troubling,” Ganley says of the UCP’s plans for nursing care in long-term facilities.

After the pandemic, a report said there needs to be an increase in the number of hours of care “and now they’ve removed all standards completely,” said Ganley in a phone interview last week.

New regulations were to take effect on Monday after an order in council on the Continuing Care Act, Section 51 (2) on Feb. 28 removed government direction for how much personal or nursing care residents in continuing care facilities receive. Previous regulations called for operators to provide a minimum of 1.9 paid hours of combined nursing and personal service care in a day to residents in nursing homes, of which 22 per cent was to be provided by a registered nurse or psychiatric nurse.

However, provincial funding will allow operators to provide 3.62 hours average of care per day, according to reports.

Ganley said she would invest in publicly-funded and delivered long-term care and for private operators that presently exist, the NDP would impose standards.

“We just can’t be warehousing our seniors. These are our parents and grandparents, the people who built this province and they just deserve better,” said Ganley.

The richest province in one of the richest countries in the world should be embarrassed that its government is willing to treat people as poorly as those residents requiring long-term care who were recently put into hotel rooms, she said.

The MLA says the pay is low and hours often not full-time for care workers in privately operated facility, people who often have to hold multiple part-time jobs.

“This was identified as a problem in the pandemic because it transmitted COVID and it could transmit many other things. This is an increasing thing in our society. The government is doing it with educational support workers, as well, where we whittle down people’s hours so they’re cobbling together and trying to scrape together a job – even though they’re working more than full-time they can’t make a living and I don’t think that’s how we should be setting up our society. These are jobs that are important.”

Under a Ganley government, all long-term care facilities would have to provide reasonable pay and working conditions for employees and include a minimum number of care hours.

Staff work for low pay and over-extend themselves, working extra hours which isn’t a fair thing to ask, she says.

“We can definitely build a society where everybody has dignity and respect.”

Ganley doesn’t expect the government will have a crisis of conscience but the NDP has successfully pushed back on other issues including education and coal mining in the Rocky Mountains, she noted.

“I think the idea of housing our loved ones, our family members in ways that leaves them without dignity, alone in a room for hours with no one to care for them, I would like to think people would push back hard enough on that to make them rethink it,” she added.

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