Its interesting to see members of the Queens Park Press Gallery twisting themselves into knots over Long Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullarton’s response to the Long Term Care task force report. One reporter demanding that she apologize for the mess that is Long Term Care. Its not clear if they are asking her to apologize for what she hasn’t done in the less than two years since she had the portfolio or for the 30 years of neglect that proceeded her appointment. Reporters are getting conditioned to ask for these public self-flagellations by the likes of Justin Trudeau who has made an art form out of apologizing for things he had absolutely nothing to do with.
When she testified before the Long-Term Care task force last year, Fullarton revealed that when she was appointed Minister of Long-Term Care, the “ministry” was pretty much an empty cupboard. No staff, no budget, nothing. Her Deputy told the commissioners that it is typical when a ministry is hived-off from a larger ministry, as Long Term Care was from Health. The report itself actually praised Fullarton for refusing to go along with a video that purported to say everything was hunky-dory with the Long Term Care area, when clearly it was not. The report also noted that she had been one of the first to issue warnings to the Health Table about the seriousness of the peril facing Long Term Care homes, long before it was acknowledged by the Health Table.
Predictably Andrea Horwath was on her feet today. drawing herself up in full indignation demanding Fullarton’s resignation (a pose the late Ald. Bill McCullough famously termed ‘high dungeon’). The fact is that the solution to this issue is going to cost billions of dollars in new long-term care facilities, better pay for LTC workers, and supports to keep people out of these places for as long as possible. That is the discussion that should be taking place at Queen’s Park, not this blame game. There is enough guilt to go around, including that experienced by families everywhere who have found it necessary to place their parents in these places.
In the meantime, given the choice of someone to manage the LTC portfolio between a medical doctor with 30-years of clinical experience and health advocacy and the leader of the NDP, we’ll take the Doc, thanks.