BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine on CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show

This week, in the face of an unprecedented crisis, the federal government approved Ontario and Quebec’s request for military assistance at long-term care homes dealing with COVID-19. 

BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine appeared on the Lynda Steele Show on Thursday to discuss why British Columbia’s seniors’ care homes are faring better than their counterparts in other jurisdictions.

The overwhelming majority of long-term care homes and assisted living residences (over 93%, and much higher when independent living is included) in B.C. have zero reported cases of COVID-19. Additionally, 11 care homes with previous COVID-19 outbreaks no longer have any active cases. 

Fontaine says B.C.’s success is owed to a combination of factors the leadership of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix; the hard work and persistence of care providers; and strong collaboration between the province’s seniors’ care sector, the Ministry of Health, and regional health authorities. 

“It really has been a ‘Team B.C.’ approach here and that’s evident in some of the data we’re seeing come out every day at three o’clock,” he says. 


Fontaine acknowledged the significant challenges facing the long-term care sector, not only in B.C. but across Canada. Staff shortages and outdated infrastructure make it harder to protect vulnerable seniors, especially during a pandemic. 

As the former Chair of the Canadian Association for Long Term Care (CALTC), Fontaine has advocated on a federal level for greater investments in infrastructure to replace older care homes and immigration reform that will allow foreign workers trained in Canada to access thousands of available seniors’ care jobs. 

And while it has been an uphill battle, Fontaine says, federal politicians are finally paying attention to these issues. 

“It’s unfortunate that it’s taken a pandemic for that to happen but I’m hoping that the politicians who are talking about long-term care today, are going to be talking about it six months, 12 months, 12 years from now, and that we don’t move beyond it and fix some of those problems,” he says.

Fontaine also addressed the public vs private care debate that has reignited in the wake of the pandemic.

COVID-19 does not discriminate based upon who owns care homes, Fontaine points out. Government-owned and operated care homes in B.C., across Canada and around the world have been impacted by coronavirus. 

“We’ve got a longstanding history in this province, well over four to five decades, of working with private and non-profit operators, who deliver 70 percent of care in British Columbia.

“I’ll go back to that statistic 95 percent of care operations in B.C. remain COVID-19- free. Those staff deserve credit and the ones in the other five percent also deserve credit for coming to work and providing the basic needs for all the seniors, rather than a finger-pointing exercise and political potshots of people saying that private is bad and public is good,” he says.

Fontaine says that our collective focus as a nation should be on addressing fundamental issues facing the long-term care sector and making systemic changes to ensure that seniors receive the care and support they deserve. 

“That is our number one goal and I’m hoping I share that goal with various political leaders across the country now,” he says.

Listen to the full interview below.

Visit our COVID-19 update page for more information.

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