The New Democratic Party tabled a motion on March 22 that would immediately turn Revera Inc. — a company that runs more than 500 seniors’ homes in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. — from a for-profit chain wholly owned by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board into a publicly managed entity.
The motion calls on the federal government to take the complex step of transitioning existing for-profit homes into not-for-profit operations by 2030. It also urges the government to work with provinces and territories to stop licensing new for-profit homes.
Earlier this year, the NDP unveiled the proposal, presenting it as a potential election promise as parties gear up for a possible 2021 election campaign. At the time, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP, said his government would bring together provincial and territorial leaders, experts and workers to set national standards for nursing homes — benchmarks that would be tied to $5 billion in federal funding.
The NDP’s motion comes as the federal government is facing pressure on the heels of calls by the Public Service Alliance of Canada to divest its ownership in Revera over the company’s safety record during the coronavirus pandemic and “pull out of the business of long-term care” business altogether.
The Public Sector Pension Investment Board, the Crown’s pension plan manager that owns Revera, said the funding model for long-term care is a key public policy debate. “PSP Investments and Revera will continue working with all levels of government to find the right solutions for the LTC industry and discuss lessons learned from the ongoing pandemic,” says spokeswoman Verena Garofalo.
More than a quarter of the country’s 2,039 long-term care homes are for-profit, with 58 per cent in Ontario — the highest proportion of any province, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. And over two-thirds of Canada’s coronavirus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, with the percentage breaching 80 per cent during the first wave. In Ontario, where the second wave has proven even deadlier than the first in nursing homes, an independent commission has been convened to examine the virus’s effect on the sector, with a report slated to come at the end of April.