A B.C. NDP government will carry on its overhaul of B.C. senior care with a 10-year project to create private rooms for all residents of public senior care homes, leader John Horgan says.
In a second campaign visit to Surrey in the early days of the campaign for the Oct. 24 B.C. election, Horgan recounted his government’s efforts to control COVID-19 outbreaks in senior care homes. He promised to carry on with increased wages and single-site employment for senior care workers, a move recommended early in the pandemic by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The staffing measure was estimated in spring to cost an additional $10 million a month, and Horgan has since promised to hire another 7,000 care aides to meet provincial standards for care hours per day.
Horgan estimated the construction work would cost $1.4 billion over 10 years. He said the conversion to private rooms is for publicly owned senior homes, and new standards for privately run facilities will be coming out soon in the NDP election platform.
Horgan took aim at the previous B.C. Liberal government record, which included care home operators changing hands to cancel union contracts, which he said forced workers into multiple part-time jobs that ended up spreading infection. The NDP government passed legislation to protect union contracts in late 2018.
Outbreaks at B.C. care facilities that account for most of the COVID-19 deaths in B.C. “were a direct result of B.C. Liberal choices,” Horgan said Sept. 30.
The B.C. Liberals were quick to point out that converting to single rooms would not provide additional senior care spaces with the senior population growing every year.
At a campaign stop in Port Moody, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson compared Horgan’s promise to other 10-year plans, for $10-a-day daycare and construction of 114,000 new housing units across the province. Three years into the housing plan, it has produced fewer than 3,000 new units, mostly temporary modular structures for people living in urban camps, Wilkinson said.