Labour and health advocates react to report on corporate behaviour in long-term care
By Pat Van Horne, USW member of the CHC Board of Directors
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has reacted to a new report showing that billions of dollars in public funds for long-term care (LTC) have been diverted from patient care into the pockets of shareholders.
“This report is brutal evidence of higher death rates and lower levels of care at for‑profit long‑term care homes,” said CLC President Bea Bruske, in response to Careless Profits, a report by Canadians For Tax Fairness. The CLC and several affiliated unions, are members of the CHC.
“The pandemic exposed grave problems in how we provide care for our most vulnerable”DR. AMIT ARYA
The report focuses on Ontario and the government’s $3.8-billion in public funding to LTC operators during the decade before the COVID-19 pandemic, which was syphoned off as profit.
Canadian Health Coalition Chair Pauline Worsfold, RN says the report is relevant across Canada.
“Scrutiny of for-profit long-term care should be done in every province,” said Worsfold. “This is a national issue, as is standards of care.”
“The pandemic exposed grave problems in how we provide care for our most vulnerable,” said Dr. Amit Arya, palliative care physician working in long term care. “In particular, the dangers of a system which prioritizes the profits of corporations over human life have resulted in a humanitarian tragedy in long-term care.”
Arya, who says for-profit, long-term care must end, is co-founder of Doctors for Justice in Long-Term Care, a group of more than 1,000 physicians, researchers and advocates.
The report also shows that some for-profit LTC operators use tax-avoidance schemes to reduce the amount they pay back into the public purse.
Revera, the largest LTC operator in Ontario, has multiple subsidiaries in tax havens. However, Canada’s lack of financial transparency laws means that the public cannot know the true cost of tax avoidance by for-profit LTC operators. Information available for three publicly-held companies indicates that together, they have potentially avoided about $500-million in taxes between 2010 and 2019.
Careless Profits ends with the following recommendations for thoughtful and effective spending of healthcare dollars; transparency about where LTC funding goes; and a requirement for corporations involved in LTC to pay their fair share of taxes. Specifically, the recommendations are:
“1. Require all for-profit LTC operators to publicly disclose relevant financial, ownership, and employment information, including revenues, profits, taxes paid, executive salaries, and dividends. Facility level information on the use of public funds and staffing should also be disclosed;
“2. Close loopholes that allow corporations receiving public funding to engage in aggressive tax avoidance schemes—such as the use of subsidiaries in tax havens—that provide tax breaks with no public benefit. Pending this closure, require for-profit operators to sign an agreement not to engage in aggressive tax avoidance;
“3. Create a plan to shift all publicly funded long-term care facilities to non-profit operators.”
Canadians for Tax Fairness is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates for fair and progressive tax policies, aimed at building a strong and sustainable economy, reducing inequalities, and funding quality public services.