Pandemic exposes shortage of care aides in Canadian care homes: B.C. Care Providers Association

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The struggle with COVID-19 outbreaks are care homes across the country has exposed a problem that is expected to get worse in coming years, according to the B.C. Care Providers Association.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he would be speaking with premiers about long-term care facilities after damning reports from the Canadian military about those in Ontario and Quebec. Trudeau, however, would not commit the federal government to taking over management of care homes from the provinces.

Later in the day, however, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province would take over five more long-term care homes in the Greater Toronto Area, adding an independent commission will begin an investigation into the allegations in the military report in July.

RELATED: Military report finds disturbing conditions in five Ontario care homes

Mike Klassen, acting CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, said the pandemic has shown a shortage of modern care facilities and staff.

“We’re looking at probably about 200,000 approximate new health care aides we’re going to need in Canada over the next 10 years. That is as a result of the growth from an aging population, but also retirements,” he added.

“As recently as last summer, we were declaring a health human resources emergency,” Klassen said. “We’ve been talking to the province and the federal government. We’ve got several regions, such as the Interior and on the Island, where we’re seeing shortages of LPNs and health care aides.”

Klassen also said outdated infrastructure, such as wards with multiple beds in the same room, makes it particularly tough to stop the spread of the virus.

He added an abundance of seniors in B.C. only exasperates the problem in care homes.

“British Columbia has a relatively ageing population compared to the rest of the country,” he said. “A lot of people like to retire in British Columbia.”

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