OCSA reveals results of new poll at launch of Aging with Dignity campaign

Ontarians to political parties, health care policy makers: Make home and community care services a funding priority

TORONTO, May 11, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new poll shows Ontarians support more public investment in home and community support services with six in ten (59%) agreeing new funding is better designated to these preventative care services rather than facilities and full-time nursing care. A majority of Ontarians (62%) also believe non-profit home and community support services deserve to be prioritized equally alongside long-term-care facilities and hospitals. This would represent a major shift in how non-profit home and community support services are financed, as these services currently receive a much smaller percentage of the health budget compared to hospitals and long-term-care facilities. One-in-five Ontarians (21%) think home and community support services should be the greater priority.

The poll was released by the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) at the launch of its new Aging with Dignity ( campaign to put home and community care issues on the provincial election agenda. The campaign will engage Ontarians in a serious discussion on the future of health care and advocate for significant policy commitments from all political parties on home and community care. Members of OCSA were at Queen's Park for the launch of the campaign and the organization's annual MPP reception.

"Greater public investments in home care and community support services is consistent with the advice of health planning experts who clearly identify this sector as the best, most affordable option for the long term sustainable delivery of health care," said Susan Thorning, CEO of OCSA. "Ontario faces the twin challenges of delivering quality, compassionate care to an aging population and managing the corresponding increases in costs to the public system. Such challenges require structural change and innovative thinking."

Access to home and community care services helps to keep people out of hospitals and long-term-care facilities. Many people lying in hospital room beds or sitting on waiting lists for long-term-care homes do not require daily medical care, they just need help with things like bathing, household tasks or transportation to medical appointments. In fact, it is far more cost effective to help seniors stay healthy and at home than sick and in institutions. It is also where people want to be - in their own homes.

According to the poll, two thirds of Ontarians (64%) consider increasing public investments in non-profit home and community care a better use of public funds than giving tax credits to families who care for an elderly relative. A majority of residents in the 905 region of Ontario (70%), those aged 55 and over (72%) and those with a university education (69%) are most likely to support investments in services rather than tax credits.

"Every day we see seniors and people with disabilities who are living a healthier, more dignified and better quality of life because they are able to maintain a level of independence and remain in their own homes," said Raymond Applebaum, CEO, Peel Senior Link . "We must make home and community care services available to more Ontarians."

"This poll shows Ontarians get it when it comes to the best use of public health care funds," said Thorning. "It's now up to our political parties to demonstrate through their election commitments that they are listening to the people of Ontario."

About the OCSA

The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) is the voice of the home and community support sector. Across the province each year, more than a million people receive home care and community support services such as in-home nursing, therapy and personal support, Meals on Wheels®, adult/Alzheimer day programs, transportation to medical appointments, supportive housing and attendant services for persons with disabilities. These services are important, cost-effective measures that prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and premature institutionalization. More information can be found at:

About the Poll

From May 5th to May 6th, 2011, an online survey was conducted among a randomly selected, representative sample of 815 Ontarian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. Individuals were sampled according to Census data to be representative of the Ontarian provincial adult population. The full dataset has been statistically weighted according to the most current gender, age, region, and education Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. The margin of error is ±3.4%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.