Madam Speaker, Retirement Concepts runs 23 long-term care facilities for seniors in Canada. Nineteen are in B.C. and seven are on Vancouver Island. Retirement Concepts provides independent living, assisted living and complex care for seniors.
In 2017, the government approved the sale of Retirement Concepts to the Chinese corporation Anbang Insurance. The following year, Anbang's CEO was convicted of corruption, and the company was taken over by the Chinese state.
The conditions at Retirement Concepts' Nanaimo Seniors Village in my riding were atrocious. The home was understaffed and provided substandard care. Seniors went for weeks without receiving a bath. They were left in soiled clothes and soiled beds. Bedsores and other related health consequences of neglect were common.
After numerous complaints by residents and their families, the Vancouver Island Health Authority took over Nanaimo Seniors Village and two other Retirement Concepts care facilities on Vancouver Island. Last month, another facility, in Summerland, had to be taken over as well.
Under the Investment Canada Act, Anbang had an obligation to maintain staffing levels. The federal government made assurances to the provinces that patient care would be protected. The B.C. Seniors Advocate has stated that she did not understand how the federal government could make such an assurance. The reporting and transparency required to make that promise do not exist. The federal government should not be permitting foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services. When seniors are hospitalized as a result of neglect and substandard care, we all carry the cost. Our seniors deserve better than for-profit care run by foreign corporations that lack accountability.
Recent analysis by the B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate found that the not-for-profit sector spends 59% of its revenue on direct care. That is 24% more per resident per year than the for-profit sector. The for-profit sector failed to deliver 207,000 hours of funded care. The not-for-profit sector provided 80,000 more hours of direct care than it was paid to deliver. Wages for care workers in the for-profit sector were 28% less than the industry standard. Nanaimo Seniors Village had a hard time attracting workers, with an average wage of $18 per hour, rather than the industry standard of $24 an hour.
There is a waiting list for every government-funded care bed. There is no competition to provide these services, no free market. These beds will be filled, whether or not a facility is properly staffed and delivering appropriate care. That revenue stream is guaranteed.
The abuses that have resulted from this situation are horrifying. We have failed to protect our seniors. We must remove the financial incentive to provide substandard seniors care. Corporations cannot be permitted to squeeze profit out of the health care system through vague accounting, paying below-average wages and neglecting vulnerable seniors. That is unacceptable.
The operation of seniors long-term care facilities is under the jurisdiction of the provinces, but the government must be actively involved in creating a solution to these problems. The government needs to mandate national standards to ensure the safety and dignity of Canadian seniors. Going forward, the government should not permit foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services.