Trudeau says pandemic revealing ‘uncomfortable truths’ about Canadian senior care as gov’t tops up financial aid

Trudeau says pandemic revealing 'uncomfortable truths' about Canadian senior care as gov't tops up financial aid
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PM Justin Trudeau says the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed "uncomfortable truths" in the ways seniors are cared for in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed “uncomfortable truths” in how Canada cares for seniors, suggesting local governments will need to fix these issues following the current crisis.

During a press conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, the prime minister emphasized his concerns about current care systems and specific flaws that have been highlighted in recent weeks as a result of the novel coronavirus.

“COVID-19 has exposed some uncomfortable truths about our society, including how we care for seniors in Canada,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.

Long-term care homes have been a huge area of concern for health officials across the country, seeing devastating outbreaks of respiratory illness, including hundreds of lives lost. Trudeau also feels there have been too many incidences of overworked staff and understaffed facilities.

“There are serious underlying challenges facing these facilities,” said the prime minister

Trudeau adds that a focus of his federal government will be to help provinces “find lasting solutions” to improve long-term care facilities, once the immediate COVID-19 emergency is over.

Long-term care currently falls under provincial responsibility, however, some advocates have called for it to be included in the Canada Health Act, which would likely mean big infusions of federal money in exchange for provinces’ meeting federal standards.

Trudeau’s concerns come on the same day that the federal government revealed financial aid for seniors amid the current pandemic.

The federal government announced it will be giving seniors a one-time, tax-free top-up payment to help manage extra costs associated with COVID-19.

Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said seniors who receive old age security (OAS) will get $300, and those who receive the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) will receive $200.

It was highlighted by Trudeau that if you are receiving both OAS and GIS, then you are eligible for the combined total of $500 from the Feds.

An additional $20 million will be allocated to the New Horizons for Seniors program, according to the government. These funds will go towards developing systems to help isolated seniors stay connected and “improve their quality of life,” claimed the prime minister.

“There’s no question that COVID-19 has been taking its toll on seniors, both emotionally and financially,” said Trudeau

“With today’s announcement our government is taking action to alleviate some of the stress they may be feeling, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

Prime Minister Trudeau said seniors have always been a priority in the government’s COVID-19 response, however, Tuesday’s announcement is the first form of direct financial assistance.

In all, the total $2.5 billion measure will provide payments to approximately 6.7 million seniors, Schulte says.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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