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Bill Kelly: A federal-provincial turf war is brewing over long-term care solutions

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Front-line workers at Toronto long-term care home 1st to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario' Coronavirus: Front-line workers at Toronto long-term care home 1st to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario
The first COVID-19 vaccinations were administered on Monday to front-line workers at the Rekai Centre long-term care home in Toronto after the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines arrived late Sunday night. Global's Marianne Dimain reports from the University Health Network, where vaccination process took place – Dec 14, 2020

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that provinces that don’t want to work with the federal government to improve standards in long-term care homes won’t get federal funding for the task.

Those are fighting words for at least two premiers: Francois Legault in Quebec and Doug Ford in Ontario.

Read more: Study suggests size determines how COVID-19 affects Ontario retirement homes

Both leaders have essentially told the federal government to just hand over more money with no strings attached and then keep its nose out of health care delivery in their provinces.

Technically, both premiers are right: health care is a provincial responsibility.

The problem is, neither province is doing a good job on the long-term care file.

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Here in Ontario, the overwhelming number of COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities, and this pandemic has exposed a frighteningly long list of serious problems, from staffing to living conditions. And sadly, things seem to be getting much worse in this second wave.

Click to play video: '‘Care Gone Wrong’ highlights flaws in Ontario’s long-term care and nursing homes' ‘Care Gone Wrong’ highlights flaws in Ontario’s long-term care and nursing homes
‘Care Gone Wrong’ highlights flaws in Ontario’s long-term care and nursing homes – Nov 26, 2020

Plus, there are concerns that, because a number of former Progressive Conservative politicians and staffers are now involved in the long-term care business, the government may be reticent to enforce even the existing standards, let alone raising the standard of care.

The point is, given its track record on long-term care, this government should seek all the help it can get to fix this broken system.

This shouldn’t be a turf war. This is life and death.

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It’s time for politicians to put egos aside and work together to save lives in long term care.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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