Faisal Hassan responds

Faisal Hassan, our MPP, generously took the time to respond to my recent post about long-term care home policy. I’ve reprinted his response fully below, with his permission.


Dear Mr. Norman,

I read with interest your column of October 18th entitled “Hassan calls for socialized elder care”. Your characterization of this as “gob-smackingly terrible idea” I take issue with.

Having spoken to hundreds of Long Term Care workers and families with elderly in Long Term Care and Retirement Homes, I can say with confidence that the for profit system is broken and the recent COVID-19 statistics more than back up that position.

It is a fact that for profit LTC deaths are at a greater number than that in public LTC.

The fact that the Canadian Military and the Red Cross had to take over many for profit facilities to assist in controlling Covid is a symptom of a deep problem.

Many personal support workers and others that work in LTC have spoken of having to work two and three part-time jobs to cobble together a full time wage.

The for profit sector thrives on part-time no benefits labour in order to keep their costs low and their shareholders happy.

We have heard countless stories of short staffing at even the most expensive of LTC and Retirement facilities. When profit is the motive, stories such as staff being told not to change a seniors brief until a certain level is reached are the horrifying results of watching the bottom line.

Taxpayers already are on the hook for LTC and Retirement as some staffing is paid from that “envelope”, I’m sure you are aware of for profit facilities having beds built and pandemic pay from the province to the private operator directly.

The NDP believes in public and non-profit home and long term care and have developed a complete plan to make that happen.

Our seniors deserve better than being warehoused in institution-like facilities where corners are cut when it comes to staffing and care in order to make greater profits for the private operator.

Conservatives and Liberals have frozen budgets, cut inspections and blocked public enquiries.

Our hospital health care system is public and I’m sure you wouldn’t prefer the American style for profit health care system where care is dependent on ability to pay.

Keeping public dollars in a public home care and long term care system only makes sense and it provides seniors with the protections they so deeply deserve.

I am happy to discuss this further with you at any time.

Sincerely,

Faisal Hassan

Town Wings: Good!

I know I’m late to this party, but I had to wait until my all-organic wife was looking the other way.

Last night, the kids and I ordered from Town Wings, the new place on Gary Drive. They have more than 100 flavours, from delicious (mesquite, dry jerk) to daring (dill pickle). The kids and I kept it simple: mild and hot (which, oddly, aren’t on the menu).

My son, who knows a thing or two about grease and salt, said only they were “good”. Judging from the number he ate, I’d say that’s a dry understatement.

My daughter, who is matters of food is somewhat more knowing, said that “the mild is better than the hot”. When pressed for tasting notes on the terroir and body, she demurred with a smile hinting that she had some secret knowledge she was unwilling to share.

Me, I liked them. They were great. There were lots. Too many. Never again. Tomorrow.

The fries were terrific, just like I like them: cooked to the point of being almost hollow. Super. I ate the salad, and that was… well, a mistake. Nobody goes there for salad.

The prices are very good, I think: $40 for enough wings and fries to kill three by hypernatremia (and a salad as atonement). A bonus: everything, including the fries, travelled really well, which was a bit surprising. It all arrived home crispy.

Two alarm fire at Weston and Lawrence

A two-alarm fire closed Weston Road near Lawrence for a few hours last night. Nobody was injured.

Hassan calls for socialized elder care

Faisal Hassan, our MPP, said this week that he would like to “ban greedy profit driven corporations from the home care and long term care sector so that every dollar goes into better care, and better living.” [sic]

This is a gob-smackingly terrible idea.

I have a friend who thinks that profit is in some way immoral. Something about it—he can never explain what (to my satisfaction at least)—seems dishonourable. I think that Hassan probably feels the same: that making a buck from seniors is a bit underhanded.

But there is nothing—not spiders, eels, or sticky tape—that I would fear more as an old person than someone who isn’t interested in my money. When I retire, I hope to live in comfort, able to buy myself high-speed internet, beer deliveries, and a sweet private room where I can sleep in until 10. This is why I save money now, and I expect my eventual nursing home to earn that money by giving me what I want.

In other words, I expect them to profit. I hope they do.

Would you eat at a non-profit restaurant? Gross. Would you sleep in a non-profit hotel? No, thank you. I like my meals hot and my sheets cold, and when I pay for these things, I get them.

Forbidding profits in nursing homes would be just as bad an idea. At best, government could force providers to follow regulations rather than their own self interest. Residents would get what they want only if the providers were obligated or inclined to provide it. They might hope to get kindly workers, but they could never be sure of that affection by—horrors—paying for it.

We buy warmth and affection everywhere else in the hospitality sector. We should be able to buy it in elder care too.

COVID this week: improving

The number of new COVID cases in Weston in the past three weeks has declined slightly—a welcome change after weeks of increases. Over the past two weeks, the number of new cases has flattened.

There have been 51 new cases of community-transmitted COVID in the past 21 days, according to city data.

New community tranmissions, from the city.

Including outbreaks in healthcare facilities, there were 59 cases in Weston.

Last week, there had been 68 cases in three weeks. We have returned close to levels of two weeks ago, when there had been 57.

Two students at Weston CI were also diagnosed with COVID, the student cases in Weston.

COVID testing is not working out well at the Church Street site

The CBC says that some people getting tested at the recently-opened Church Street COVID testing centre are having to wait more than two weeks to get their results.

“What’s the whole point of going in for tests if you don’t even get the results until after the quarantine time? There’s no point. It defeats the whole purpose,” she said.

Faisal Hassan, NDP MPP for York South-Weston, says he received more than 25 complaints in a week about people waiting for test results from the Church Street assessment centre.

He says residents were concerned that without a result, they couldn’t return to work, go to school, or visit and provide essential care to loved ones in long-term care homes.

“We have been [identified] as a hotspot area and these delays are totally unacceptable,” he said.

The hospital told the CBC that their typical turnaround is three to five days.

In addition to the burdens they place on those being tested, long turnarounds make contact tracing impossible.