Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Motion No. 47.
As of 2021, Alberta had a total of 186 long-term care homes. From June 6 to 12, Alberta celebrated Seniors' Week and honoured the vital contributions seniors have made, and will still make, in their respective communities. Now, it is our turn to reciprocate.
As we are all aware, it was difficult during the pandemic for many, especially seniors in long-term care. It was an eye-opener for all of us. Our long-term care facilities needed to be improved. The NDP-Liberal government must meet its provincial counterparts to ensure our seniors are taken care of properly. During the pandemic, I received complaints from families worried about their parents' well-being. Seniors were isolated. They had to stay in their rooms and have their meals in their rooms, and their daily exercise routines, as well as their socialization with others, was not permitted.
Although health care is primarily a provincial issue, the federal government needs to increase the health transfers to help provinces with the ongoing challenges they are facing. Even though the provinces use the health transfers at their discretion, the federal government can make recommendations. The government's uncontrolled spending that is exacerbating skyrocketing inflation leaves seniors and other vulnerable demographics behind. The government needs to commit to long-term care with accountability and to long-term care that serves Canadians' best interests.
For years, experts, residents and caregivers have identified the need for the same rigorous standards and accountability across Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the long-standing challenges with our health care system, and we need to tackle those challenges head-on. We can no longer afford to ignore the issues that have long existed in long-term care and home care. These health services were crucial in helping older Canadians to remain active and engaged in society and to live with dignity. The pandemic has exposed the unacceptable conditions in many long-term care homes across the country that people with serious health conditions have been required to live in for decades.
Home care clients were left without basic personal care services, such as bathing and laundry, during the pandemic. This is reflective of the larger issue with home care. Its capacity to improve health and reduce costs continuously fails to be recognized and funded by governments. When long-term care and home care fail older adults, families and friends step in. Informal caregivers provide an estimated 80% of community care and 30% of care in institutions. As Canada's population ages, relying on informal caregivers to bolster the health and social systems will have major ramifications for our society and our economy.
Now is the time to implement enforced principles and national standards for long-term care developed in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments. As part of our national seniors strategy, these standards must specify conditions and criteria the provinces and territories must meet to receive federal health and social transfer payments, with repercussions for failing to meet the outlined conditions and criteria. This would ensure a standard level of quality care, availability of equitable and consistent services across the country, and adequate levels of funding for these types of care. It would also ensure greater public accountability of government delivering on long-term care and home care.
For decades, research has shown that our global counterparts that have national standards for long-term care and home care have better health outcomes and quality of life for their older populations. Research conducted during the pandemic has reaffirmed this, demonstrating that countries with national standards experienced dramatically lower numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities tied to long-term care and home care.
In Canada, during the first wave, more than 80% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care facilities. We cannot let this happen again. This government needs to commit to ensuring Canadians from coast to coast to coast have access to quality care and safe care by supporting the implementation of enforced principles and national standards for long-term care.
It is time to reimagine older adult care. It is time for the federal government to take a leadership role in establishing enforceable national standards tied to funding, and it is time for territories and provinces to unite to collaborate and fix long-term and home care. We must look out for the best interests of older Canadians by supporting the implementation of enforceable national standards for long-term and home care. We need improvements in the quality and quantity of care work. We need concrete strategies and real action to ensure everyone has the right to receive quality care. This includes the right to decent work for those providing care.
Canadian care standards need to be implemented to address shortfalls and inequitable levels of care for seniors and persons with disabilities, including in long-term care, home care and palliative care. Building an inclusive and equitable recovery must mean investments in better, safer jobs and stronger care systems to support care workers, ensuring that all those who need care have access to quality, public care services. This can be done by establishing an e-health strategy that includes virtual care, expanding MyHealth Records and similar programs for patient portal information capabilities, developing secure messaging and collaboration services to enhance communication, and developing a privacy and security framework for virtual care.
According to Statistics Canada, the demographic of those aged 85 and over has doubled since 2001, and it is expected to double again by 2046. A significant proportion of those in this demographic will reside in long-term care facilities. We are all aging, and one day may find ourselves in long-term care. Let us fix it now. This federal government must invest and repair Canada's failing care systems. How we emerge from the crisis in long-term care will define us as a society.
I think that part of my concern with Motion No. 47 is the fact that we have not kept up with the issues our seniors are facing in long-term care, as well as those many other issues our seniors are facing. It seems like we have almost taken them for granted, and that they are not part of our society any more. Instead, they are locked away, and we do not have to worry about them.
However, that is not the attitude that we should be taking as a government. We should be there honouring and respecting our elders, giving them the best quality of life they possibly can have, not only now, but also for years to come. That is why we need to start improving all of our long-term care facilities and making sure they are not just places where people go to die, but places where people want to be and need to be, and where they are taken care of properly. That is what we are lacking, not only with the government, but also other governments.
To make these improvements, yes, money will have to be spent, but we will be much better as a society if we are able to accomplish this as a country united to improve the quality of care for all seniors.