Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said today that a re-elected Liberal government would spend $9 billion to address the dangerous shortfalls in Canada’s long-term care sector that were exposed by the pandemic.
“As we learn the difficult lessons of this pandemic, we must make sure tragedies like this never happen again,” Trudeau told a news conference in Victoria, B.C.
A $9 billion investment would be a significant increase on the government’s long-term care commitment in the 2021 budget, which called for new spending of $3 billion over five years, starting in 2022-23.
The Liberals say the increased investment would be used to improve the quality and availability of long-term care beds.
Long-term care residents accounted for around 80 per cent of all reported COVID-19 deaths during the first wave of the pandemic, and continued to account for a disproportionate share of deaths until vaccines were made widely available.
Trudeau said a Liberal government also would push for a new $25 per hour minimum wage for personal support workers — although achieving that new standard would require cooperation from the provinces and territories.
Trudeau said his government wants to secure higher wages for those workers through investments and partnerships with provincial and territorial governments.
The promised additional spending would also be used to train up to 50,000 new personal support workers
“To the personal support workers who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, truly you are our heroes,” Trudeau said.
The Liberals say they would also double the Home Accessibility Tax Credit from $10,000 to $20,000. That credit can be used for renovations that help seniors stay in their homes longer.
A report published earlier this month by the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that long-term care improvements would cost taxpayers $13.7 billion.