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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the eve of the provincial election, Liberal Candidate John Milloy, running as the incumbent MPP for Kitchener Centre, responded to a letter sent by ILCWR Executive Director Bil Smith, requesting comment on the Liberal Party strategy for sustaining and expanding community-based healthcare.
Mr. Milloy's response can be found below, and the original letter is attached in PDF format beneath.
Please remember to vote this Thursday, October 6th!


From: Mr. John Milloy
To: Mr. Bil Smith
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dear Mr. Smith,

Ontario Liberals recognize the tremendous challenge faced by all Ontarians as our population ages.  We want to ensure Ontarians have choices and supports in place that allow our elderly to age with dignity and that support families who are caring for elderly loved ones. We believe that, by collaborating with system partners such as the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, we can make a positive difference for our elderly Ontarians and their families as they face difficult choices about independence, housing and care.

Ontario Liberals have a plan to ensure our elderly can age with dignity including: enhanced community supports; targeted funding to fight the impact of dementia; and improved research capacity in brain disease.  To make it easier for seniors to stay in their home we have introduced the Seniors Home Energy Credit and increased funding to community based care. We are committed to investing in senior focused affordable housing and providing renovation grants for modifications such as ramps and assistive bars in the bathroom, to help our aging Ontarians remain independent and in their home.

Through the creation of the Local Health Integration Network we ensure funding gets to the areas within the community where it is needed most. As well, we have passed legislation governing Retirement Homes and reviewed the Long Term Care Act to improve standards of care for our most vulnerable citizens.  We are expanding research on diabetes and brain related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and locally we recently announced funding for the Schlegel Research Institute for Aging, to develop a centre of excellence for research, training and innovation in senior health care and wellness, which will see a 91 bed Long Term Care facility built at the University of Waterloo.

Ontario Liberals believe that we need to realign our health care system to provide greater support for elderly Ontarians in their homes. Ontarians want to remain at home as they age, close to their family and friends and engaged in community life. In 2007, we launched the Aging at Home Strategy, a $1.1-billion investment over four years to increase the level of care available for those needing care in the community.

Additionally, we have significantly increased funding for the 600,000 Ontarians who rely on service from Community Care Access Centres (CCACs). Since 2003 we have increased total CCAC funding, which supports service like home care, by 64 per cent, bringing it up to $2 billion a year. In the 2011 Budget, we announced that, for the first time in the province’s history, the community sector would receive a commitment of multi-year funding growth. Our plan to invest 3 per cent more each year will continue to improve access to vital services such as home care.

As part of the Aging at Home Strategy, Ontario Liberals have provided targeted investment to support dementia services. In 2010/11, we provided $2 million to support psycho-geriatric outreach teams. We have also supported the establishment of the successful First Link program in 11 of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province. If re-elected, we will work to ensure this program is rolled out across the rest of the province.

This summer we also launched a new program, Behavioural Support Ontario (BSO), to improve care for Ontarians with challenging behaviours, wherever they live; at home, in long-term care, or elsewhere. Our plan will invest $40 million a year to develop new capacity for behavioural supports. The program will involve hiring 700 additional health care professionals such as nurses and Personal Support Workers (PSWs), and setting up behaviour teams and specialized community services to better care for seniors with behavioural issues.

Ontario also became the first province in Canada to launch a “silver alert” policy to ensure that wandering Alzheimer’s patients are returned home to their loved ones as soon as possible. We are investing $1.5 million in this initiative.

Ontario Liberals have also focused on improving the research related to brain disease. Our goals are to improve the standards of care for those at risk of, or afflicted by, brain disease and to foster a vibrant neurological research cluster in the province. In 2010, we announced the creation of the Ontario Brain Institute and provided $15 million over three years to support the initiative. The mission of the institute is to establish Ontario as a world leading centre for brain research and innovation.

Ontario Liberals will continue to support our seniors and their families.  As part of our plan to move forward, together, we recently announced plans to establish a Family Caregiver Leave policy, which would allow Ontarians to take up to eight weeks of job-protected leave to provide care for sick family members who require support. Those struggling to provide help to ill aging relatives should never have to worry about losing a job if they need to take time off work. Ontario Liberals recognize this and will ensure job-protected leave for those in need. We will also work with the federal government to try and ensure that those who take time off under the plan are eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI).

The Family Caregiver Leave plan builds on our existing Family Medical Leave policy, which allows eight weeks of job-protected leave for workers whose close family members are dealing with serious illness that comes with a significant risk of death. Family Caregiver Leave would expand the scope of such leaves from work to include loved ones of those who are fighting health issues, but who are not at imminent risk of death. Under the combined program, Ontarians would be eligible to take up to 16 week of job-protected leave to care for a sick relative.

Recently, we also announced a commitment to bring back doctor house calls. We know that patients with mobility issues or health problems such as dementia cannot easily leave the home to visit a doctor’s office. Without appropriate medical attention at home, these patients often end up in the hospital or long-term care or simply do not get proper medical attention. Our plan is to help those in need get access to telemedicine, phone consults and house calls so they can remain at home. We know that bringing care into the home helps patients with illnesses such as dementia stay in their homes longer and out of institutional care. Being able to stay at home close to family and friends is good for Ontario families struggling to cope with dementia and it is good for our health care system.

The PCs and the NDP have no real plan to tackle the challenges of an aging population. Only Ontario Liberals have a strong track record of progress on this important issue, and a clear plan for the future.  Tim Hudak will be forced to make deep cuts to health care to fill the $14-billion PC platform hole.

I would like to thank the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region for the important work that you do and assure you that Ontario Liberals are committed to supporting our elderly so they can age with dignity - so they can maintain as high a quality of life as possible.

Sincerely,

John Milloy,
Provincial Liberal Candidate
Kitchener Centre

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