I recently received an invitation to attend a Town Hall with MPs from my riding and the riding next door (Matthew Kellway and Craig Scott), as well as Libby, pertaining to heath care.
The invitation outlined two NDP strategies that will purportedly help ease the pressure on Canada’s health care system, while ensuring that Canadians receive the care they need:
· Ensuring that Canadians have access to extended compassionate-care benefits through E.I., and
· Some nonsense about a forgivable loan so that Canadians can make additions to their homes in order to accommodate relatives who need long-term care.
It is true that Canada’s population is aging. It is true that community care is the least expensive, most effective model for providing long-term care. But the emphasis on homecare as an economical option completely negates the impact of providing long-term care on the caregivers, and is frankly unrealistic for large numbers of Canadians who live on the edges of the social safety net.
Let me tell you a bit about myself. This is relevant, I promise:
I am a freelance writer and editor. I also have a couple of part-time jobs. I am living at the edge of my means, renting a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto. My mom is currently healthy and great, and lives in Markham, about an hour’s bus-ride away (I don’t drive). If my mother were to become incapacitated, the best option for her would be long-term care within her community. There is no place for her to move in with me: I can’t build an extension onto a one-bedroom apartment. As a freelancer, I don’t have any access to your proposed E.I. benefits. And, frankly, I have not spent the past decade becoming very good editor in order to become a substandard nurse-cum-personal-care-attendant. There are professionals who can do that sort of thing far more competently and gracefully than I can. (For the record, my mom does not want to stay in her home if she becomes infirm. We’ve discussed it: she wants us to find a good, high-quality assisted-living situation for her, where she will have social outlets and access to trained medical care if she needs it. She didn’t help me through school and a bunch of moves in order for me to move back in with her, either.)
I’m not that unusual: approximately 15 percent of Canadians are self-employed and therefore are likely ineligible for E.I. benefits. Approximately 30 percent of Canadians rent their homes and of those who own their homes, about a tenth (or roughly 800,000) live in condominiums (and so cannot build on in-law suites).
So my questions for you are as follows:
· How does the NDP propose to help Canadians and families who don’t fit into your middle-class, property-owning, fully employed, box access long-term care?
· How does the NDP reconcile what appears to be an emphasis on home care with any sort of concern for the status of Canadian women, given that the vast majority of caregivers turn out to be women?
· How does the NDP propose to ensure that single Canadians, or Canadians who are separated from their families receive long-term care?
· Perhaps most importantly, how do you propose to give Canadians access to health care and long-term care that will allow them to make the choices that work best for them and for their families?
Any strategy that the NDP proposes needs to address the needs of all Canadians: those without families, those living at the edge of their means, those living far from their families, and those who are situationally or temperamentally unsuited to providing long-term care for family members. We need to find ways to provide professional, skilled long-term care to our aging population without sacrificing the careers or lives of their children. Your current scheme leaves a lot of people on the fringes.
We can take better care of each other. We need to take better care of each other. I trust that the NDP will apply its collective smarts to finding ways to care for our aging population that work for all families.