File photo from inside a long-term care facility in Ottawa.
Tony Caldwell / Postmedia Network
The Ontario government is delaying cuts to long-term care homes that were expected to kick in this week.Dr. Merrillee Fullerton, the minister in charge of long-term care, said in a statement Tuesday that funding cuts announced in the provincial budget are being pushed back three months, until Oct.1. She said she made the decision after hearing from long-term care operators and others with funding concerns.“This will allow for more sufficient time for long-term care operators to make the required adjustments and if there are any potential gaps affecting the quality of care for patients, they can be addressed.”Fullerton said she would meet with stakeholders “to ensure that this process is seamless, and that integral service to our province’s most vulnerable continues without interruption.”The cuts to two funding programs would hit Ottawa’s four municipal long-term care homes hard, city officials say.Earlier this month, Mayor Jim Watson wrote to the minister asking the province to either reverse the cuts or make up the funding difference in per-diem rates to the long-term care homes.The cuts, he said, would mean a shortfall of around half a million dollars for 2019 and more than a million for 2020. Watson said that the cuts would have a serious impact on the direct care of residents.On Tuesday, Dean Lett, director of long-term care for Ottawa, said the city is pleased that the termination date for the two programs has been moved, but it will still face a funding shortfall in October of $276,072 for 2019 and $1,104,288 for 2020.The city has not received a response to the mayor’s letter asking that the cuts to the High Wage Transition Fund and the Structural Compliance Premium program be made up through daily funding.In a statement, Fullerton called long-term care a vital service.“As we face the challenges of an increasingly aging population, ensuring that our long-term care system remains sustainable is of the utmost importance.”