Ontario looks for alternate care options for aging seniors, Damerla says

July 21, 2014 - All News

By Nouman Khalil
Staff Writer
PEEL — With Ontario’s over-65 demographic booming, particularly in Brampton and Mississauga, the Wynne government is looking to options other than long term-care facilities to provide quality care for seniors.
“We’re focusing on our ‘aging-at-home’ strategy,” said Dipika Damerla, Ontario’s newly-appointed Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Mississauga East-Cooksville MPP. “We want seniors to live in their own homes with their own families, as long as they want to, and we will provide services so they don’t have to move to a long-term facility.”
In cases where ‘aging-at-home’ is no longer an option due to a need for 24/7 nursing care or secure supervision, seniors have to go through a lengthy process with one of the 6,220 employees of Ontario’s 14 Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) to qualify for a place in a public long-term facility, then join a lengthy waiting list.
Once eligibility and level of urgency is determined, the applicant (or their designated decision maker, if they are deemed mentally unfit) can join waiting lists at up to five of the province’s 628 public long-term care facilities, which house 77,000 beds.
Wait time in Peel, which has about 4,000 beds at 26 facilities, currently ranges from 60 days for a private room at the Mississauga Leisureworld Centre (approx. cost $2,361.55 per month) to 1,981 days (more than five years) for a basic room at the Yee Hong Centre, also in Mississauga (approx. cost $2,011.76 per month). (For wait-time updates, visit
Damerla said to make sure beds are kept available for the most in-need patients, the government wants to make sure seniors and their families have access to numerous alternatives, such as home-based personal support workers (PWS). Damerla admits, though, that the government has much to do to make sure there are enough such workers to meet the need.
“Our budget lays out a plan to increase funding for home and community care by $270 million this year and over $750 million by 2017,” she said. “Our plan also includes increased wages for our hard-working personal support workers, helping us better recruit and retain PSWs so our seniors can get the care they need.”
Damerla noted 20,500 nurses have also been added to Ontario’s healthcare system since 2003, and the government has promised a $4 wage increase for PSWs over the next four years.
On Monday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa (MPP for Mississauga South) tabled Ontario Liberal’s $130.4 billion budget, which was identical to the one that triggered elections in May. After been re-elected in the general elections, Damerla was inducted into the new cabinet.
“The ministry is a huge responsibility and I am very grateful to be given this opportunity and I am looking forward to doing my best,” she said.
Fact and Figures
628: Number of public long-term care homes in Ontario
77,000: Number of long-term care beds in Ontario
26: Number of public long-term care homes in Peel   3,946: Number of long-term care beds in Peel
15: number of homes in Mississauga
2,345: number of beds in Mississauga
11: number of homes in Brampton
1,601: number of beds in Brampton
713,443: Population of Mississauga
523,911: Population of Brampton (making the two cities among the largest and fastest-growing cities across Canada
850: number of CCAC workers added in the last five years
6,220: number of CCAC workers on the job in 2012-13.
586,423: number of individuals who received home care funded by CCAC in 2008-09: 54 per cent were aged 65+; 29 per cent aged between 19-64; and 16 per cent were under 18.
653,730: number of individuals who received home care funded by CCAC in 2012-13: 58 per cent 65+; 27 per cent 19-64; and 15 per cent under 18 — got home care funded by the agency. These numbers also include those clients who were transferred or re-admitted and counted more than once.
60 days: current minimum wait time for a private room in Peel
1,981 days: current maximum wait time for a basic room in Peel
$2,361.55: approx. monthly cost of a private room at a public Ontario facilities
$2,011.76: approx. monthly cost of a basic room at a public Ontario facilities
For wait-time and cost updates, visit