Covid-19 is shining a light on a number of flaws in our health and social safety net. A concern that has been universally shocking has been the shoddy way in which we care for our elders.

Manitoba has fared better than many provinces, but this has largely been due to generally low numbers, a bit of luck and the diligence of Manitoba care-home staff.

The number of people infected with the Covid-19 virus has been relatively low in Manitoba compared with other provinces and Manitoba has had only one covid-19 related death in a personal care home. But this article in the Winnipeg Free Press written by Julie Turenne-Maynard, Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly, (MARCHE) representing 19 non-profit care homes in Manitoba, reminds us that we shouldn’t assume this means that Manitoba is doing a good job.

Trenne-Maynard makes clear that personal care homes continue to be low on Manitoba’s priority list. She notes that provincial funding for basic operations has been frozen for 10 years and funding for capital repairs has been frozen for 25 years. This at a time when personal care home residents tend to be older with more serious conditions requiring more, not less care.

The result of provincial neglect has been cuts in staff and programs and much needed capital repairs.

Further evidence of the Manitoba governments neglect to prioritize vulnerable seniors is described in this CBC report. It reveals that the Manitoba government scrapped in-person nursing home inspections during the coronavirus pandemic:

“CBC has learned there have not been any nursing home inspections in the province since March 12, when the first cases of the virus were reported in Manitoba.”

MARCHE is calling on Manitobans to tell our government that:

“chronic under-funding of personal care homes is not compatible with excellent care. And that the Covid-19 nightmare in other provinces has reinforced that it’s high time seniors moved up a few pegs on everyone’s priority list.”

In a previous post we listed contact information for Manitoba MLAs and cabinet ministers. In honour and respect for the elders in your life, contact them and tell them you want to see increased funding to non-profit care-homes so that they can hire more full-time workers, offer higher wages and benefits, and provide the programs and supports that our elders deserve.