Pallister Government Starves PCHs During a Pandemic

November 3, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB—Despite knowing a second wave of Covid-19 was likely, the Pallister government refused to boost funding to personal care homes to help them hire more staff, buy PPE and make infrastructure changes to keep seniors safe.

“Long term care facilities are desperately trying to save seniors lives—yet all this government can do is tell them to keep the receipts. It means care homes are facing cash flow challenges while they try to get a handle on outbreaks,” said NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Rather than consider paying personal care homes back later, the province could offer emergency funding now so that they can get the supports they desperately need.”

During Question Period, Asagwara tabled a copy of a letter sent from the Department of Health to personal care homes across the province that urged facilities to report “incremental costs related to the Covid-19 response”, to be settled up at a later date. Department officials noted some care homes would be subject to audits in order to “assure accuracy and validity”. They noted that facilities experiencing “cash or liquidity challenges” should report it immediately “to ensure ongoing business continuity”.

It’s the same approach the province took with school divisions, leaving schools to make cuts, dip into savings and even fundraise just to afford basics like PPE.

Under the Pallister government, personal care homes have been chronically underfunded as staffing and medical costs have gone up and facilities have aged. In June the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly called for the province to immediately increase operating funding to at least the rate of inflation and to fund higher staffing levels.

“The lives of our loved ones are at stake here,” said Asagwara. “Now is not the time to nickleand-dime personal care homes. Now is the time to make funding available so that facilities can protect seniors and end these outbreaks.”