Friends of Medicare and our allies in the disability community are calling on the Alberta government to prioritize home care funding in the impending provincial Budget.
EDMONTON — Following Facility-Based Continuing Care (FBCC) review recommendations to shift the delivery of Alberta’s continuing care services to include a greater proportion of care in community, the UCP government has repeatedly made clear their intention to expand the province’s home care system. However, we have yet to see any meaningful investment to support this expansion.
For the 127,000 seniors and disabled Albertans who depend on home care, chronic underfunding has equaled unmet care needs. Daniel Ennett, a disabled Alberta filmmaker and activist, receives only 6.6 hours of care work a day. To make up for a 12 hour care gap, his family has had to provide the majority of his care work.
“My mother has been my primary caregiver for 30 years. As a single parent, she has had to liquidate savings and quit her job, working herself to the bone until she was utterly infirm with chronic pain,” said Ennett. “Family caregivers make up nearly $12 billion dollars in unpaid labour in Alberta alone – that’s $12 billion this government is underspending on staffing every year. In the event that I run out of friends or family to exploit, I will have to be institutionalized. I own my house, I have a burgeoning career in film, and I deserve to live in my community without being punished for needing care.”
Government plans to further contract out home care services to private, for-profit providers will only exacerbate existing issues in home care. For-profit home care providers employ a precarious workforce of underpaid and often undertrained care workers, all while Alberta is experiencing chronic staffing shortages throughout our health care system.
“Promises to expand community care are effectively meaningless without a plan to staff it,” said Gallaway, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "Home care workers are already overworked and under-supported, with some of the poorest working conditions among Alberta’s health care workers. Short staffing will continue to spell compromised working conditions and unfilled care needs for seniors and people with disabilities.”
Alberta’s population is aging and the demand for continuing care services is growing. But government home care funding for 2022-2023 didn't even cover what’s needed to keep up with Alberta’s inflation and population growth. Investments are urgently needed to expand and strengthen our home care system so that those who need assistance to safely remain at home can do so.
“Budget 2024 is an opportunity for this government to put their money where their mouth is,” says Gallaway. “Home care is in urgent need of support, and this provincial budget has the potential to improve and expand this essential health care service so that everyone has access to the home care they need, while relieving some of the considerable pressures currently on our emergency and acute care systems.”
We encourage all Albertans to add their voice to the call to prioritize home care funding in the 2024 provincial budget.