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PCs promise to outpace Liberals’ plan for long-term-care beds

Low-income families will receive 75 per cent refund on child care costs, Tory platform says

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If elected premier, Brown would match the Liberal commitment for 30,000 new long-term-care beds over 10 years, but with 15,000 in the first five years.

“Hospitals are becoming overcrowded, patients are being treated in hallways and temporary patient rooms, and hospitals can’t keep up,” the “People’s Guarantee” campaign blueprint states.

“These pressures stem from the lack of long-term-care beds in the province, with more than 32,000 seniors on the waiting list,” the 78-page, magazine-style document adds.

“This will only get worse if action is not taken as the province’s seniors population is expected to almost double by 2041.”

PC officials said the additional nursing home beds would come in newly built facilities as well as existing long-term-care homes where possible, and that the government would work with local agencies to determine needs across the province.

The platform document says the promise would cost $25 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year and $52 million the following year as the beds begin to appear.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Eric Hoskins raised doubts about the Conservative numbers, saying the Liberal government has promised 5,000 beds in the next four years at a cost of $382 million.

“They’d have to bring almost all of their new beds on line in the fifth year, and dramatically increase their spending at that point in time to catch up — or not keep that promise,” Josh ‎McLarnon told the Star.

Dental care for low-income seniors is estimated to cost $357 million over the first four years, with Conservatives noting only one-third of lower-income seniors have insurance coverage for their teeth.

“Because thousands of seniors can’t afford preventative dental care, minor problems become serious issues and seniors turn to emergency rooms for help,” the platform says.

“This increases emergency room wait times for everyone … emergency rooms are not the appropriate place to care for dental issues.”

Aside from dentists and their assistants using buses to go where they’re needed, the dental program would involve more funding for public health units, community health centres and clinics in underserviced areas, treating up to 100,000 seniors annually.

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