QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West) has re-introduced her private member’s bill, the More Than A Visitor Act, which enshrines rights for people receiving care, support or services in congregate care settings, such as long-term care and group homes, to ensure consistent, continuous and safe access to their essential caregivers.
“The pandemic was devastating for residents in congregate care settings, many of whom were confined to their homes or rooms nearly every day, with no access to the family caregivers they rely on for their physical and mental health,” said Gretzky. “Their quality of life suffered, and their family caregivers had no choice but to watch from a distance as the health and emotional state of their loved ones deteriorated.”
The More Than A Visitor Act received all-party support as it passed second reading in 2020, but Ford refused to bring it forward for third reading for nearly a year then prorogued the legislature, scrapping the bill and all its progress. The Patient Ombudsman’s August 2021 report on the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed the need for congregate care residents’ rights to access their essential caregivers to be enshrined in legislation.
“Enough with the delays. Residents in congregate settings and their families want to see this bill become law in Ontario so that they never again have to experience the anguish of prolonged separation from their essential caregivers,” said Gretzky. “The Ford government has the power to pass this legislation today, and guarantee that people living in congregate care have consistent and safe access to their essential caregivers. Ford must stop refusing to act and finally pass my bill.”
Pam Libralesso, Ontario Families of Group Home Residents:
“As a parent to a group home resident and founder of Ontario Families of Group Home Residents (OFGHR), I am so thankful for Lisa’s tenacity and dedication to the issue of legislated access to essential care partners by those in hospitals, long term care and group homes. Despite several attempts by this government to address this issue through guidance, it has become clear that legislation is the only way to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated. OFGHR is in full support of Bill 19 and we call on the Ford government to pass it quickly without delay.”
Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos:
“Lisa Gretzky’s More than a Visitor Act is vital to upholding the rights of our most vulnerable Ontarian’s living in congregate care. Family involvement In care and the right to access one’s most trusted care partners is not merely a nicety but an often life-saving support that needs to be entrenched in law”