The OCC and its members have identified two key advocacy priorities for caregivers:
Access to home care supports
Financial distress for caregivers
We also address urgent issues as they emerge.
More details about our advocacy work can be found below. If you have any questions about how these recommendations were determined, what we are doing to advocate, or would like to help, please contact the Research and Advocacy Committee of the OCC.
More Beds, Better Care Act (Bill 7)
The More Beds, Better Care Act 2022, colloquially known as Bill 7, came into effect on September 21, 2022.
The Act, passed without public hearings, aimed to facilitate the transfer of what are known as "Alternative Level of Care" patients from hospitals to long-term care placements. It does so by permitting placement co-ordinators and long-term care home operators to admit individuals to long-term care without their informed consent. Hospitals are mandated to charge a $400 daily fee to patients who are discharged but choose to remain in hospital. In selecting a long-term care home for discharge, placement co-ordinators must take into account the proximity of the home, which must be within a 70 kilometer radius from the patient’s preferred location or a 150 kilometre radius if the patient’s preferred location is in northern Ontario, unless there are no homes, or limited vacancies in homes in that area.
The OCC is very concerned about the impact of Bill 7 on caregivers and their loved ones. Among other concerns, placement of loved ones at such significant distances from their caregivers places substantial barriers to the essential care that caregivers provide and imposes substantial transportation and travel costs.
When Bill 7 was introduced, the OCC wrote an Open Letter to the Ontario government, urging substantial amendments to the Bill. These amendments were not made. OCC remains deeply concerned about the impact of Bill 7 and continues to urge its repeal.
Financial Distress for Caregivers
It is common these days for policy-makers to acknowledge how vital family caregivers are not only to supporting their loved ones to lead good lives, but also to sustaining our overstretched health, long-term care and social services. All too often, however, caregivers receive little practical support beyond these words of thanks and empathy.
This is particularly true when it comes to the financial costs of caregiving. While some steps have been made in recent years to improve caregiver training and mental health supports, and to smooth system navigation, Ontario families are currently left to manage the costs of caring largely on their own. With the cost of living crisis and the ongoing shortfalls in home and community care, these costs continue to mount.
Financial distress is the most commonly raised priority for our caregiver members, and financial supports the most commonly identified unmet need among caregivers.
The OCC is working to increase understanding and awareness of caregiver financial distress, build the coalition for change, and to reach out to decision-makers to adopt practical steps to prevent and address caregiver financial distress.
If you are interested in being part of our work on financial distress, contact us.
Direct Funding Supports
Direct Funding programs allow clients, sometimes with the help of caregivers, to take an active and central role both in defining their needs and in determining how those needs are met. Instead of funding professionals or agencies to deliver services to a client, governments directly fund clients who opt into these programs to purchase services from providers of their choice. Ontario has four Direct Funding programs, each with its own structures and requirements:
Ministry of Health Programs
Family Managed Homecare - provides funding for individuals assessed as in need of homecare
Self-Managed Attendant Services - funds adults with physical disabilities to employ their own attendants to support the activities of daily living.
Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services
Passport Program - supports adults with developmental disabilities to be involved in their communities and live as independently as possible, as well as funding for caregiver respite services and supports for the primary caregivers of the client.
Special Services at Home - serves children with developmental or physical disabilities by providing funding for personal growth and development and family respite.
Ontario can build on its existing programs by learning from successes across Canada and around the world. Enhancing Direct Funded programs can provide caregivers with the respite and homecare supports they need to carry out their vital role while protecting their financial, physical, mental and emotional health. This in turn will help delay or avoid institutionalization and support our healthcare system.
To strengthen Ontario’s Direct Funding programs, we call on the government to:
Reform eligibility requirements to allow substitute decision-makers and caregivers to manage application and administrative processes.
Enhance program flexibility to allow family members to provide care
Increase accessibility by moving programs from reimbursement to reconciliation funding
Improve awareness of these programs and ease navigation
Reduce waitlists by transitioning increased funding to these programs over time
How You Can Help
There are many ways you can get involved with our advocacy around improving access to Direct Funding Supports.
1. You can reach out to your local MPP to request a meeting to discuss the Direct Funding Supports using our Meeting in a Box kit.
To learn more about how to engage your local MPP and about our asks regarding Direct Funding Supports, feel free to request a copy of one of the training webinars we developed!
2. You can send a letter to your MPP
3. You can sign our petition.
If there are other ways you want to get involved, please feel free to contact us!
Election Toolkit 2022
For the 2022 provincial election, OCC reached out to parties and candidates to raise caregiver needs and advocacy priorities. We also supported our caregiver members to be part of positive change by preparing a comprehensive Election Toolkit.