Jennie Stevens MPP, St. Catharines

Government of Ontario

Opposition MPPs blast government over long-term care in Niagara

Published on January 24, 2020

Not a single long-term care bed has been created in Niagara Falls in five years despite a growing wait list in the community, says Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates.

As of November, 434 people in Niagara Falls were stuck on a wait list for a long-term care bed, he said.

Gates, with two other NDP members — St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch — addressed the issue at a press conference in Niagara Falls Friday.

"Hundreds of families in Niagara Falls desperately need long-term care for their loved ones, who have been left to languish on wait lists," said Gates.

"Many are forced to stay in hospital while they wait, which is only making the hallway medicine crisis in Niagara even worse. Enough with the broken promises of new beds (and) re-announcements of old broken promises. 

"Today our message is loud and clear: We need a budget that provides for residents of Niagara Falls and all of Ontario."

Gates said in its first 18 months in office, the current government has built space for just 21 beds throughout the province.

Stevens and Burch said Niagara suffered under the previous Liberal government and current Progressive Conservative one in receiving long-term care for residents.

"The Liberals let Ontario's long-term care wait list get out of control and left the Niagara region without the support local families need," said Stevens.

"The (Premier Doug) Ford government is failing to build the necessary long-term care beds to meet demand, and allowing wait lists to grow every single day."

She said Linhaven, a long-term care home in St. Catharines, has a wait list of 200 and an expected wait time of 215 days, which she called "unacceptable."

"The real story in St. Catharines cannot be expressed by numbers of beds, it is a real story about real people. It is about the families that I see come into my office every week, the families seeking help to find space in a system that doesn't have enough."

Burch said there are nearly 3,000 people on the wait list for long-term care beds across Niagara.

"Many of us have families and relatives — I know I do — who are on that list," he said. 

"It's really a government who is making cuts, and let's not play semantics: Not keeping up with health-care inflation is a cut. Enough of the talk, let's have some action."

On Friday, Niagara West Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff confirmed the government is committed to creating 30,000 long-term care beds across Ontario, with 300 in the works for Niagara.

He said only 2,000 were created in 15 years under the previous Liberal government.

Oosterhoff said the 300 his government has already announced for Niagara are "in the process of expanding, including additions, as well as new beds."

He said 40 are going to an "underway" project in Virgil while Linhaven is getting 13 new beds for an "expansion" project, and other projects are underway in St. Catharines and Welland.

"Those are projects, of course, that do take some time to roll out, but now that that funding has been approved and that is moving forward, we should see construction and expansion, renovations moving forward in the near future."

Oosterhoff said when it comes to Niagara Falls, the government wants to work with its Niagara Region and private-sector partners who come forward with plans to build new facilities.

He said the 300 beds will take "a lot of pressure off of the system as a whole" and create "more capacity in areas like Niagara Falls."