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B.C. election: NDP vows to end shared rooms in long-term care, bring in for-profit home rules

NDP Leader John Horgan reacts to a shot as he plays lacrosse as he meets the local candidate during an election campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C. Tuesday, September 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A re-elected BC NDP government is promising to get rid of shared rooms in long-term care facilities.

Leader John Horgan on Wednesday said the party would spend $1.4 billion over a 10-year period to build additional facilities if elected on Oct. 24, as well as support a wage hike for long-term care workers.

The party has in the past criticized for-profit care providers and the services they deliver to residents.

Horgan said he’ll focus investment on public long-term care homes, instead of providing hundreds of millions in funding to for-profit corporations.

Click to play video: 'NDP leader John Horgan set to unveil Long Term Care policy on Wednesday' NDP leader John Horgan set to unveil Long Term Care policy on Wednesday
NDP leader John Horgan set to unveil Long Term Care policy on Wednesday – Sep 30, 2020

“During a health crisis, it’s seniors who are most at risk,” Horgan said.

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“Sixteen long years of BC Liberal neglect left long-term care homes dangerously understaffed and frontline workers underpaid. Our plan builds on the progress we’ve made to keep seniors healthy and safe, through the pandemic and beyond.”

Read more: Nurse who avoided screening, transmitted COVID-19 ‘no longer employed’ at B.C. care home with deadly outbreak

If re-elected, the BC NDP would make private operators ensure that they deliver the care they are paid to provide, and are more accountable for the public dollars they receive.

Horgan did not provide details on exactly what these requirements look like.

He said the NDP platform will come in the days ahead.

Click to play video: 'Decision BC: One-on-one with JohnHorgan' Decision BC: One-on-one with JohnHorgan
Decision BC: One-on-one with JohnHorgan – Sep 25, 2020

The party is also committing to continuing the single-site policy, which ensures care-home staff work only in one facility. The NDP introduced the rule this summer to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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A re-elected New Democratic government would also put in place “levelled up” wages and benefits for those workers even after the pandemic ends.

Read more: Coronavirus: B.C. announces new rules on visiting long-term care homes

Asked about making the single-site rule permanent, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said some workers prefer to work part-time and that will need to be accounted for in any permanent shift.

“That needs to be sorted out in terms of the management of the workers’ lives and there will need to be adjustments made,” he said.

“Those workers — we need those people to take care of our seniors. They need to be compensated properly.”

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