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Long-term care

Ontario creates web site to report LTC quality

TORONTO – The Ontario government is making major strides in its plan to improve the quality and accountability of long-term care in Ontario, claimed the provincial Health and Long-Term Care Minister, George Smitherman (pictured at left).

“This year will be remembered as the time when the province took concerted action to raise the standards of long-term care,” Smitherman said. “Our government continues to forge strong partnerships with long-term care advocates and providers to build a system where every long-term care home in the province is a true home where residents live in dignity.”

Last December, the minister appointed Nipissing MPP and Parliamentary Assistant Monique Smith to undertake a top-to-bottom review of the long-term care system and to recommend needed reforms. The government announced its action plan to respond to the report in May 2004 and has taken the following actions this year:

• Launching a public website that provides more information about individual homes and their records of care. It can be found at

• Investing $191 million to hire 2,000 new staff, including at least 600 new nurses, to ensure all residents have access to a registered nurse at all times and that they receive at least two baths per week;

• Introducing a new toll-free ActionLine (1-866-434-0144) for people to get information or register a complaint;

• Beginning surprise annual inspections by ministry investigators;

• Mandating Family Councils and Residents Councils so that residents and family members can have a say in how long-term care homes are operated;

• Allowing couples to live together in the same long-term care home, even if they need different levels of care.

The government says it will continue to raise the standards for long-term care homes in the province with the introduction in 2005 of a new Long-Term Care Homes Act. The proposed new legislation would include whistleblower protection so that staff members can safely report cases of abuse and would strengthen enforcement and compliance measures to ensure homes quickly correct any problems.

There have been more than 400 responses to the discussion paper issued on the proposed legislation.

“Our proposed legislation will set out clear expectations for homes to meet when caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our province,” Smitherman said. “It will be the cornerstone upon which we build a long-term care system that will be a model for the rest of the country.”