(a) the House recognize that (i) COVID-19 has tragically exposed long-standing issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country and the frontline workers who care for residents, (ii) we need to make sure the conditions of work reflect the care standards our seniors deserve, (iii) while the management of long-term care facilities is under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, we share the goal of ensuring safer, better care for seniors; and
(b) in the opinion of the House, the government should work with the provinces and territories to (i) improve the quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds, (ii) implement strict infection prevention and control measures, including through more provincial and territorial facility inspections for long-term care homes, (iii) develop a safe long-term care act collaboratively to ensure that seniors are guaranteed the care they deserve, no matter where they live.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, as this is my first speech in this chamber in the 44th Parliament, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my constituents in Avalon for trusting me to be their voice once again here in this chamber. Without their support, I would not be able to stand here today and present this very important motion. It is my greatest honour and pleasure to serve them.
I am thrilled and honoured to stand in the House today to introduce my first private member's motion since I was elected in 2015, Motion No. 47, which strives to help the government move forward on improving the state of long-term care in Canada. Long-term care is a topic that is near and dear to me as an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador. My province has one of the fastest-aging populations in the country. Our death rate is outnumbering our birth rate, and with every passing day, the demand for long-term care spaces grows at an alarming pace.
Our seniors are the backbone of this country. They raised us, taught us and inspired all of us to be the people we are today. They worked hard and put in their service to their communities, and I believe it is on us, all of us, to ensure there is a dignified, respectful and safe space for them to live out their golden years.
As parliamentarians, we have learned many important lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. I would argue that one of the most alarming things we learned was the tragic state of some long-term care facilities in this country. The pandemic has underscored issues that far predate this pandemic, including staffing challenges, aging infrastructure and lack of adequate infection, prevention and control measures.
Of course, our provincial and territorial partners have primary jurisdiction over long-term care in Canada. We respect them and the role they play in legislating rules and regulations for long-term care homes and nursing homes in Canada. However, the federal government still has a vital role to play. We just have to look at what our government did to support long-term care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to see that at work.
Our government deployed the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Red Cross to long-term care facilities that faced severe COVID-19 outbreaks in the early days of the pandemic. About $740 million of the safe restart agreement funding was allocated to protect vulnerable populations and address the immediate needs in long-term care. We created the safe long-term care fund, a $1-billion fund that helps the provinces and territories protect people living and working in long-term care from COVID-19 and improve infection prevention and control. Of course, we did much more.
We believe that we must work hand in hand with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure there is a minimum standard of care across the country in long-term care. We want to support the provinces and territories by identifying gaps in legislation, enforcing standards of care and ensuring there is a clear minimum standard of care that should be upheld across the country.
In budget 2021, we announced a $3-billion investment in support of the provinces and territories to ensure that standards within long-term care facilities are applied and permanent changes are made to uphold those standards. The provinces and territories can use this funding to improve workplace conditions and training, strengthen enforcement and compliance, and much more. This is the type of collaboration that needs to continue, and I believe that by supporting Motion No. 47 and creating a federal long-term care act, we can work across jurisdictions to identify a standard of care and conditions that all facilities across our country should be expected to uphold. The commitment to a safe long-term care act came from my party's 2021 election platform and was reiterated through the recently announced agreement between the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party: Delivering for Canadians Now.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the good work of the Standards Council of Canada, the Health Standards Organization and the Canadian Standards Association, which have conducted extensive consultations to develop two sets of national standards related to long-term care. They are the national long-term care services standard of Canada to focus on resident and family-centred care practices and the national standard of Canada for operation and infection prevention and control of long-term care homes. It is my understanding that the draft of these standards of care documents have been released for public review. I hope this important research and consultation will act as the framework for a federal long-term care act and will guide us in making systemic changes that will benefit residents in long-term care facilities and those who work there.
I speak to seniors and their families almost every day, and they express serious concern about the future of our aging population. They are worried that long-term care spaces will not be available when they or their loved ones need one. They are concerned that with increased pressure and requirements, staff will start to burn out and homes will not be able to retain employees. They are concerned that long-term care facilities will not be properly equipped in the future to handle infectious diseases and keep their residents safe.
I share these concerns, and I know that my colleagues in this chamber share these concerns as well. The future of long-term care in this country lies in the hands of legislators like us. If we are proactive and innovative, we can change the course and address the problems facing long-term care across the country. I believe this starts with Motion No. 47. I believe that by supporting my motion and agreeing as a House that we support the creation of a long-term care act, we are taking the first step in bettering the lives of seniors and workers in long-term care in Canada.
I would like to thank all my colleagues for their support on this very important matter.