The evidence is clear

February 23, 2017


The Toronto Star
One Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5E 1E6

Letter to the Editor:

Re: The evidence is clear: Large-scale private equity investments in nursing home facilities too often jeopardize the quality of care and put seniors’ health at risk

Margaret McGregor and Lisa Ronald are right: the evidence is clear. We would add that the evidence has been clear for a very long time. There is a not-for-profit difference in services for seniors and governments need to recognize and support this difference, especially here in Ontario.

Research findings that show ownership impacts quality of care in long term care are not new. A 2015 study by the Bruyère Research Institute found that for-profit homes have significantly higher mortality and hospitalization rates than not-for-profit homes. A 2011 study published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy concluded that for-profit facilities are likely to produce inferior outcomes. A 2009 meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal concluded that on average not-for-profit nursing homes deliver higher quality care than for-profit homes. And the list goes on.

On top of this, our analysis of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s wait list data shows that the greatest demand exists in the not-for-profit sector. Not-for-profits account for just over 40 per cent of all homes in the province and less than one half of all beds, but they are the number one preference of two-thirds of individuals on the total provincial waitlist.

What often isn’t clear to the public is that in Ontario, long term care services are provided by not-for-profit organizations as well as for-profit operators. Both are funded at the same level by the provincial government. But there is a fundamental difference. Not-for-profits use every surplus dollar to enhance and expand their services and operations. On top of that, not-for-profits, through municipal contributions and charitable donations, typically contribute additional resources to their operation to further enhance the level of care and service provided.

Despite this clear and compelling case for not-for-profits, they represent a smaller and shrinking share of long term care beds in Ontario. That is why OANHSS is urging the Ontario government to take two critical steps in the next Provincial Budget: add 2,500-5,000 new beds as a start to addressing the escalating wait list for long term care (26,500 seniors and growing), and ensure a minimum of 50% of those licences are dedicated to the not-for-profit sector.

We support the call for a national panel to delve into the issues surrounding privatization and marketization of long term care across the country. Those already in and those waiting for long term care, their families and the staff that provide care in these homes deserve to have all of the information about long term care. As does the taxpayer.

Catharine Gapp

Chief Executive Officer

Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services to Seniors

W: (905) 851-8821 ext. 230

C: (647) 531-8821