Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB - With outbreaks of Covid-19 in six personal care homes in Manitoba, Manitoba Liberals say the PCs need to step up and fund Covid-19 protections for Long Term Care facilities and Personal Care Homes (PCHs).
The Manitoba Liberals and Health Critic Dr. Jon Gerrard, MLA River Heights, first called on the Pallister PC government to develop a plan to handle Covid-19 outbreaks on March 2, more than six months ago, when outbreaks in Italy and Kirkland, Washington showed that PCHs were known Covid-19 hotspots.
A report released last year from the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly (MARCHE) emphasized that the provincial government is badly underfunding personal care homes.
While the PCs have issued guidelines, they haven't backed it up with funding to help facilities cover the costs of the changes.
In June, the PCs cut off funding for personal screening at PCHs, telling them to opt for a cheaper and less effective form. PCHs have continued to pay for personal screening but aren't being reimbursed.
LTCAM has issued statements making it clear they are facing a funding crisis.
In an August 14 letter to all MLAs, The Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba (LTCAM) wrote:
"Costs to implement and maintain the public health orders direction from Shared Health / RHAs are unprecedented. These additional costs have become a crippling concern for our residents...
However, these new costs are in addition to the PCs situation of fifteen years of funding freezes, no funding for increased supplies around Infection Prevention and Control and zero annual inflationary operational increases.
As well, for the past two years direct funding reductions were implemented along with other regional "cost savings measures" which, many times directly and negatively impacted our members."
"It wasn't until this week, with outbreaks in six care homes and deaths in several, for the PCs to commit to any funding - and even that is vague," said Gerrard. "The Pallister PCs are choosing penny pinching over keeping seniors safe and the consequences will be tragic."
No personal care homes have received any additional funding to date and the government only made a half-hearted commitment to reimbursements this week, telling facilities they can submit receipts.
As with education, the PCs have said personal care homes should submit receipts for expenses, but haven't been clear about what will be covered.
Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA St. Boniface Dougald Lamont said the PCs are being reckless and irresponsible by denying funds and not giving clear direction to care homes where the people who are most vulnerable to Covid-19 live.
"We have said all along that the conditions in Manitoba's personal care homes are not that different to BC, Quebec and Ontario, and the Pallister government needs to step up now to protect seniors," said Lamont.