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Trudeau announces funding for shortfalls in long-term care during campaign visit to Saanich

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced $9 billion in funding improvements to address “shortfalls” in Canada’s long-term care sector care while in Saanich today as his re-election campaign made stops in Western Canada.
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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks while campaigning at the Lodge at Broadmead in Victoria on Thursday, Aug. 19. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced $9 billion in funding improvements to address “shortfalls” in Canada’s long-term care sector care while in Saanich today as his re-election campaign made stops in Western Canada.

About $6 billion of that is new funding.

Trudeau spoke at Veteran’s Memorial Lodge, a home for about 225 seniors and veterans, adjacent to Broadmead Village.

He promised to raise wages for personal support workers, including a guaranteed minimum wage of at least $25 per hour, train up to 50,000 new personal support workers “so that people don’t have to do endless overtime shifts”, and double the Home Accessibility Tax Credit to provide an extra $1,500 to help seniors stay in their homes longer.

Trudeau said he would give provinces and territories $3 billion to improve the quality and availability of long-term care beds, and develop a Safe Long Term Care Act to ensure standards are upheld. He also talked about provinces and territories conducting more facility inspections for long-term care homes.

The Liberals said the seniors’ promises would cost about $9 billion over five years, many of which were announced today.

Trudeau said the pandemic highlighted that not enough is being done for seniors. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 have been residents in long-term care.

“Think about it, we had to send the Armed Forces into retirement homes — in Canada. The situation was so heartbreaking and so dire in so many places that we had to resort to extraordinary measures,” Trudeau said.

“It shouldn’t take a crisis like this to highlight what, unfortunately, too many people have known for too long — that we’re not doing a good enough job everywhere across the country to support our seniors.”

Trudeau said the country has to move forward and learn the difficult lessons from this pandemic. “We must make sure that tragedies like this never happen again,” he said.

A re-elected Liberal government will work with provinces and territories as partners to do more for seniors and those who care for them, he said, noting the work already done in provinces such as B.C. and Quebec.

To the personal support workers on the front lines of the pandemic “truly, you are heroes,” Trudeau said.

The Liberal leader gave a shout-out to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and made his remarks alongside local Liberal candidates including Sherri Moore-Arbour, who is contesting Saanich-Gulf Islands.

Saanich-Gulf Islands has been held by former Green leader Elizabeth May since 2011, when she beat Conservative Gary Lunn.

Trudeau was one of two party leaders in Western Canada today.

New Democrat head Jagmeet Singh was in Edmonton. Singh spoke on health care and is campaigning on behalf of local candidates — one of whom, Heather McPherson, was the only non-Conservative to win an Alberta seat in the last federal election.

Erin O’Toole’s Conservative campaign was moving to Central Canada. He was due to speak in Nepean, Ont., and had scheduled two virtual telephone town halls for voters in New Brunswick and Ontario.

Trudeau said he would visit family after his press conference in Saanich — aunts and cousins — he hasn’t been able to see or see as often as he’d like during the pandemic.

His grandmother, Kathleen Sinclair, had stayed at Veteran’s Memorial Lodge. Trudeau pointed to his aunts who were in the audience: Heather, his mentor to become a school teacher, and Betsy, owner of Brentwood Bay Nurseries and a registered nurse who has helped out during the pandemic.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com