Early this week, The Office of the Seniors Advocate released a new report that exposes the record profits being made in the contracted long-term care sector. For-profit companies are extracting profits for investors from public dollars, and British Columbians – whether residents, family members of residents, or workers in long-term care homes - are paying for it.
The Senior Advocate’s second review of the contracted long-term care sector, Billions More Reasons to Care compares revenues and expenditures in long-term care in 2021-2022 with those of five years ago.
It shows alarming spending differences between for-profit and not-for-profit operated care homes, impacting the care residents receive. For-profit operators in BC more than doubled their profits in five years, rising from $3,439 to $7,465 per bed. For-profit facilities earned 7 times as much profit as not-for-profit facilities.
Profit in contracted for-profit facilities comes from diverting public funds away from direct care to the bottom line. While making record profits from publicly funded beds, for-profit care homes failed to provide 500,000 funded direct care hours. In contrast, not-for-profit care homes delivered 93,000 more direct care hours than what they were funded for.
According to the Hospital Employees’ Union, "This government has inherited a long-term care system that is fragmented, lacking in transparency and failing to deliver on the common working and caring conditions that our seniors and our members deserve''.
During her presentation at the report's release, Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie stressed the need for fundamental reforms of funding in the long-term care sector: “Incremental reform is not going to be sufficient here,” she says. One of the key recommendations of the report is ensuring taxpayer dollars and funding for seniors' care is spent on care.
She acknowledged the quickly changing long-term care landscape post Covid-19. The government has taken bold action to address issues in long-term care, including investing hugely to boost staffing, increase infection control, ensure wage levelling, and creating the Health Career Access Program to address recruitment of workers to the sector.
Health Minister Adrian Dix has said his ministry is developing a new funding model “that ensures greater accountability” and ensures taxpayer dollars intended for direct care are spent on care, not profit.
The Seniors Advocate also called for improved accuracy and transparency in monitoring and the reporting of revenues and expenditures of long-term care homes. She also gave credit to the government for creating a standardized financial reporting template. It’s a first step towards ensuring public dollars are used for direct care.