The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to ignore the failings of long-term care in Canada. Despite the federal government’s promise in last fall’s throne speech to “set new, national standards for long-term care,” the provinces ultimately have jurisdiction over the area, with a wide range of policies and organizational models already firmly in place.
Any proposal that does not consider these institutional facts of life in Canada risks failure. Instead, our governments should exploit the strengths of Canadian federalism to improve long-term care, as demonstrated in a new publication from the Institute for Research on Public Policy’s Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation.
The paper’s author, University of Toronto professor emeritus Carolyn Tuohy, shows that the most promising path to federal-provincial cooperation can be found in two key areas where both orders of government already have a history:
“Decisive action in these areas where concurrent jurisdiction is already well established would add a set of complementary mechanisms to the existing institutional framework, rather than attempting a major institutional transfer of responsibility to the federal government,” says Tuohy.
“This is an opportunity to make once-in-a-generation changes to the policy framework for long-term care. If we do not act now, the failings that have been exposed by COVID-19 will continue to take their toll on the lives and the quality of life of Canada’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Federalism as a strength: a path toward ending the crisis in long term care, by Carolyn Tuohy, can be downloaded from the website of the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation. (centre.irpp.org).
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