Madam Speaker, I am rising today to speak on something residents told me is their clear priority. I will be speaking in support of the private member's motion of my colleague for Avalon on improvements to long-term care
We know residents in long-term care homes disproportionately suffered during the early stages of the pandemic. That was true in Brampton, but also from coast to coast to coast.
Seniors are one of the fastest-growing age groups in Canada. I know everyone in this chamber agrees we need to do everything we can for the people who built this country. I read the text of this motion and see that it speaks to the many needs of our seniors, families and health care workers. The motion is in line with the Minister of Seniors' mandate letter, and I trust all members will agree that it is a positive step forward.
Today, I want to focus on specific elements of this motion to share the perspective of seniors from my community, as I have heard it directly from them.
The past two years have been challenging for Canadians. The pandemic exposed gaps in the system, and our government has been there to support Canadians and provinces by laying out a plan for the recovery. Time flies, but I still remember all the work we have done since 2020 in the Standing Committee on Health. We have listened to experts on our government's response to the pandemic.
I would like to take members back to the beginning of 2020. From January 15 to February 28, there were 14,960 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario among long-term care residents. Those accounted for 15% of all reported cases in the first wave, according to Public Health Ontario. At the same time, at the peak of the first wave, outbreaks in LTC and seniors' homes accounted for 81% of deaths in Canada.
As the situation worsened, and at the request of the Government of Ontario, teams of medically trained Canadian Armed Forces personnel were temporarily deployed to facilities identified by the province to provide a range of assistance and medical support. Grace Manor was one of them: this facility is located in Brampton South.
The Canadian Armed Forces went above and beyond to temporarily support long-term care homes. Then, the CAF report that followed included stories and examples of unacceptable abuse. When I first saw this report, I was deeply concerned about residents enduring unbearable conditions.
I want to thank all CAF members for their selfless service to our seniors, but these tragedies should never have happened. Sad stories such as these are why we are debating this motion today. They are also why I want to recognize all of the families with residents living in long-term care. Family members of residents in LTC are important support systems, and the pandemic made that difficult. We will always keep them in our hearts. Their strength, resilience and advocacy has been inspiring. That is why, back in 2020, my Ontario colleagues and I got together to advocate for national standards for long-term care so seniors in Canada could receive the quality of care they deserved.
In the 2020 fall economic statement, in budget 2021 and in budget 2022, we continued our commitment to strengthen care for seniors and persons with disabilities. The Government of Canada has worked collaboratively with provinces and territories throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to protect seniors in long-term care. This includes up to $4 billion to help provinces and territories improve the standard of care in those facilities.
I know the Minister of Health, the Minister of Seniors and other ministers are working together with provinces to advance these commitments, and I know they will deliver. A lot of important steps have already been taken.
Our government welcomed the news that the Health Standards Organization and Canadian Standards Association have launched a process to help address these issues.
The Health Standards Organization and Canadian Standard Association will work with the government, stakeholders and Canadians to develop national standards that will help to inform ongoing discussions with provinces and territories on improving the quality of life of seniors in long-term care homes. After years of hard work, our seniors deserve that.
In budget 2021, our government committed $3 billion over five years to Health Canada to support provinces and territories in ensuring that standards for long-term care were applied and permanent changes were made. Our government amended the Criminal Code to penalize those who neglect seniors under their care. This will go a long way in addressing some of the long-standing challenges and gaps.
Budget 2022 proposes the creation of an expert panel to study the idea of an aging-at-home benefit. Our government recognizes that some seniors wish to stay at home for as long as possible, where they are comfortable and with the communities that support them. Coming this summer, we are increasing old age security for seniors ages 75 and up. I know my residents welcome this initiative, and I know that our government is taking meaningful action to support the provinces and territories as they address gaps.
The pandemic was hard on seniors, and we will come out of this stronger than ever before. Helping Canadians age with dignity in the best possible health, all while enjoying social and economic security, is one of the government's top priorities.
In conclusion, let us agree that we must continue to work with all provinces and territories to help ensure that everyone, no matter where they live in Canada, has access to the long-term care they deserve.