Federal funds spending bookended by extended-care, child-care investments | Provincial | Information

Trudeau’s liberal government on Monday tabled a federal budget aimed at ending the fight against COVID-19, investing in a broken economy and helping vulnerable people on both ends of the age spectrum – seniors and children.

Speaking to introduce the first federal budget in two years, Treasury Secretary Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic had “mercilessly” persecuted Canadian seniors, killing thousands of lives and bringing all seniors into fearful isolation.

“We have failed so many people in long-term care facilities,” Freeland said. “Here’s what I want to say to you and your families: I’m so sorry. We owe you so much more than that. “

“So much better” is expected to emerge from a budget announcement of a $ 3 billion investment over five years from 2022-23 to ensure provinces and territories provide a standard of care in their long-term care facilities.

Freeland said the pandemic shed light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country. That light was focused on Nova Scotia last week when Prime Minister Iain Rankin was bombarded with opposition questions about pandemic failure in long-term care in the Northwood facility in Halifax, which resulted in 53 virus deaths.

Michelle Lowe, the executive director of nursing homes for the Nova Scotia Association, an umbrella organization that represents 85 percent of the province’s 97 nursing homes, said her association recently discussed the requirement for national standards.

Lowe said the Nova Scotia system is not perfect, but “we have a very good system when it comes to standards and results that are required.”

Lowe said the concern is that if the federal government focuses on developing national standards, it will “divert focus from the really critical things that require investment”.

“The immediate problem is recruiting,” said Lowe. “Standards are important, but I would say the standards that many of our facilities here in Nova Scotia adhere to are exceptional.”

The Northwood Expanded Nursing Home in Halifax. The federal budget included funds that would create national standards in nursing homes across Canada. – Tim Krochak

Lowe said Nova Scotia can set standards that meet and likely exceed national benchmarks, and said a variety of government agencies like Accreditation Canada are reviewing long-term care facilities to ensure practices meet national and international standards.

Lowe said the federal government’s funds would be better invested in paying the sometimes unattainable fees for these governing bodies at examination facilities.

“The main problem with long-term care in this country is recruitment,” Lowe said. “For so long the focus has been on acute staff recruiting, doctor recruiting, and nurse recruiting to get into primary care, and what has fallen off the radar and what has fallen off the government’s efforts is this whole area Recruiting for continued care, not just in Nova Scotia but across the country. “

Lowe said funding new or renovated facilities is important, “but if we don’t have the staff to support it, none of it will matter.”

“Unless we have a significant investment in recruiting, especially based on what we’re seeing here in Nova Scotia … I keep my fingers crossed and hope that doesn’t happen, you will see facilities closing beds for summer vacation because you just have not enough staff to take care of it. “

According to Lowe, having private rooms available to every senior in long-term care is not realistic based on projections that would require 199,000 new beds over the next 15 years to support the baby boomers as they go through the system.

The federal budget also allocates $ 90 million over three years to explore ways to support an old age at home initiative to help seniors stay at home in their home communities for as long as possible stay. Income and otherwise vulnerable seniors, including assigning seniors to volunteers who can help with meal preparation, house maintenance, daily errands, gardening, and transportation.

“This is fantastic,” said Lowe of taking care of more seniors at home.

The federal government has also promised to increase old-age insurance for Canadians aged 75 and over.

It means providing support where COVID has hit the hardest – for women, young people, low-wage workers and small and medium-sized businesses, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors.

At the other end of the spectrum for senior citizens is a federal commitment to invest $ 30 billion in a Canadian childcare and early intervention program over the next five years. By the end of next year, the federal government plans to cut the average regulated early learning and childcare fees by 50 percent, which will bring regulated childcare fees down to an average of $ 10 per day over the next five years.

Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, at least $ 9.2 billion will be invested annually in childcare from 2025/26, including indigenous early childhood education and childcare.

“Long overdue,” said Alec Stratford, chairman of the steering committee for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Center for Political Alternatives.

“It’s been 50 years since the Women’s Status Commission recommended a national childcare program,” Stratford said. “It’s finally nice to see words come true with a wise investment.”

Stratford said the program will work just like health care, with the federal government providing funding using federal standards and provinces figuring out how best to implement it.

Stratford said childcare is especially important right now as “we look at statistics on women in the workforce and the impact of the pandemic”.

Stratford said childcare is one of the most effective economic policies we can bring into play with every dollar spent returning $ 2 to the economy. This policy creates equity among the sexes in the workplace.

“Because women can feel safe with their children being looked after, they will re-enter the job market, go back to school and find the education and tools we all need.”

The federal budget shows a deficit of 354.2 billion US dollars for the fiscal year just ended and a projected deficit of 154.7 billion US dollars for the 2021-22 budget cycle.

The federal budget plans to create a million new jobs by the end of the year and increase funding by the fall to help Canadians and Canadian businesses recover through the pandemic crisis and support 500,000 new training and work opportunities, nearly the most of which Will be half the opportunities for teens.

“These are the programs that are needed,” said Stratford. “With Pharmacare and higher healthcare spending, all of these programs and services are lowering the cost of living for Canadians so they can lead better lives. This is a markedly different approach that we’ve seen previous governments where austerity is the policy maker. “


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