Poll: Replace for-profit long term care with public system

Poll: Replace for-profit long term care with public system

"This polling shows that Canadians understand that our LTC system needs to change. Before the vaccines, Canada was the worst country at protecting our seniors in LTC. 80% of pandemic-related deaths were in LTC. Invest and make it public, these are 2 key steps toward better protecting our seniors and the workers who care for them." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (15 September 2021) — A poll released by Abacus Data, conducted for the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) clearly shows very strong support for reforming the delivery of Long Term Care (LTC) in Canada.

Poll shows Canadians want change in long-term care

The poll, released in the midst of the federal election, quantified Canadians desire for change in LTC.

On federal LTC funding increases:

  • 81% of respondents agree that the federal government should increase its funding for LTC facilities
  • 8% opposed this increasing federal funding

On replacing private, for profit LTC:

  • 71% wanted for-profit LTC providers to be replaced by a public system.
  • 13% opposed this replacing of private by a public system.

These are very clear indicators that Canadians want change in LTC, governments and elected representatives would do well to take notice.

LTC in crisis

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reports that from March 2020 to February 2021, more than 80,000 residents and staff in LTC homes were infected with coronavirus. This resulted in 14,000 deaths, and places Canada as having the worst record of any country in terms of protecting our vulnerable seniors. The crisis in LTC started well before the pandemic, but the stress of the pandemic has laid bare the critical need for change. Clearly something has to change when private LTC providers effectively abandoned their clients and the Canadian Forces were forced to intervene to save lives.

Poll consistent with past polls

Last May, another Abacus Poll showed Canadians were strongly in favour of bringing long-term care under the Canada Health Act. This poll was taken before vaccines were widely distributed and conditions in LTC were still overwhelming Canadians. In that poll, 86% wanted LTC brought under the CHA, with only 2% opposed. NUPGE is campaigning for LTC to be brought under the CHA, alongside other progressive reforms to improve LTC in Canada.

It is clear from a review of the LTC commitments by federal political parties, that the parties most likely to form government have no intention of removing profit from our LTC system. The Liberals are making broad commitments to improving LTC while the Conservatives are doing very little beyond providing infrastructure funds. The NDP and the Greens are both committed to taking profit out of LTC and for bringing LTC under the principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA). 

Moving forward

The need for LTC reform and investment is only increasing. An aging demographic will expand the need for LTC beds. The private, for-profit, providers are gearing up to meet this demand but many of these are the same providers who, during the pandemic, proved to not be able to protect vulnerable seniors and the workers who care for them. Canada needs LTC that is part of our public health care system, adequately funded, with enforceable national standards, adequate staffing levels and hours of care to do the job. These are all reforms which advocates have called for for may years, now is the time to move forward on progressive LTC reform.

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 1:55 pm


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE