Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau speaks during a campaign stop in Squamish, B.C., on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on October 24. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

BC Greens focus on long-term care reform in first platform promise

Greens have promised to move away from the for-profit care home model

The BC Greens have released details on their first platform pledge in the 2020 snap election, focusing on the most vulnerable in the ongoing pandemic: seniors in long-term care.

“Too often we speak about beds in care homes, instead of the people who live there,” Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said in a news conference Thursday (Oct. 1), giving thanks to workers on the front lines taking care of the elderly through COVID-19.

The Greens have promised to move away from a for-profit care home model, instead focusing on community-based facilities that “integrate seniors more deeply into our communities.”

Furstenau noted that the B.C. NDP government was quick to back provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry when she issued the single site order for facility staff earlier this year, but argued that issues within long-term care “at their core” have yet to be fixed.

ALSO READ: Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

“We see time and time again that the other major parties tinker around the edges of problems,” she said. Furstenau also pointed to the four Retirement Concept facilities that were taken over by the province leading up to the pandemic.

“Our seniors are not commodities that should be earning some investor a profit,” Furstenau said. “They are our parents, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles. They are the leaders in our communities. They should be respected as such.”

In addition, the party leader said she wants to see the role of B.C.’s Senior’s Advocate change to operating as an independent officer of the B.C. Legislature – similar to the Representative for Children and Youth – instead of reporting directly to the health ministry.

When asked how much the Greens would budget on this reform, Furstenau said seniors care is an expensive piece of any health-care budget but fell short of being able to confirm a cost, citing the party’s inability to prep for a snap election in similar fashion to the NDP.

The Greens’ announcement comes just one day after NDP Leader John Horgan promised to spend $1.4 billion to improve the long-term care system as part of a 10-year plan that would see improvements to facilities and their administration.

ALSO READ: Horgan vows to replace B.C.’s shared senior care rooms in 10 years

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has said long-term care workers need proper compensation, but added he’s skeptical of NDP promises because they turn out to be more dream than reality. The Liberals have not yet released any details on handling seniors care.

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