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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are seeking public assistance in identifying a suspect and witness of a Dec. 4 sexual assault in Esquimalt. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police seeking suspect, witness of sexual assault of Esquimalt teen

Teen sexually assaulted Dec. 4 after departing number 15 bus

Patrick MacMullan won $28,000 playing Toto. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Greater Victoria man wins $28,000 while watching football

Winning ticket purchased at Colwood convenience store

(Pixabay photo)
Emergency repairs underway on Phillips Road in Sooke

Sewage may have entered DeMamiel Creek and Sooke River

Eligible non-profit organizations and charities apply for support through North Saanich’s COVID-19 relief until Feb. 12.(Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich lays out criteria for grants to non-profits

Eligible applicants can apply for an unlimited amount to help ease effects of COVID-19

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)
Vancouver Island egg producer cries foul over ‘Island’ label

Egg farmer frustrated with regulations allowing mainland-laid eggs to be labelled ‘Island’

Police and fire crews at work at a fire scene at Mount Prevost School (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Classes cancelled by fire at a Duncan-area school for the second time this week

Fire this morning at Duncan area middle school follows Monday blaze at nearby elementary

Most Read