Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford has vowed to create 30,000 long-term care beds if elected premier in the June election.
Ford made the announcement Friday at a pre-campaign stop in Sarnia, where he also spoke out against supervised injection sites.
The PCs committed to creating 15,000 beds within five years, and 30,000 over the next 10 years.
“To all our great front-line healthcare workers, the doctors, nurses, … help is on its way, resources are on (their) way, but most importantly, we’re going to start listening,” Ford said.
The PCs say the measure will ease pressure on hospitals by providing care space for Ontario’s rapidly expanding senior population.
Ford’s campaign did not say what the proposal will cost.
In response to a question after the announcement, Ford said he “doesn’t believe in” supervised injection sites.
“I believe in supporting people, getting them help,” he said in reference to drug rehabilitation programs.
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“If your son, daughter, loved one ever had an addiction, would you want them to go into a little area and do more drugs? I am dead against that. But I fully understand, fully understand, there’s a small epidemic out there, opioids and the rest. We have to help people.”
Ford said the PC party would do “everything we can” to address the opioid crisis and support those with addiction.
The governing Liberals said recently the province had approved funding for seven supervised injection sites, five of which had already opened.
The government has pledged to spend more than $222 million over three years to tackle the growing opioid crisis in the province, with money earmarked to expand harm reduction services and hire more frontline staff.
Government data show there were 1,053 opioid-related deaths from January to October of last year, compared with 694 during the same period in 2016.
Ford’s long-term care announcement comes a day after a similar commitment from Premier Kathleen Wynne. She vowed to create 30,000 beds in 10 years, with 5,000 new beds by 2022.
With files from the Canadian Press