A Bill from Welland MPP Cindy Forster designed to protect vulnerable adults and seniors in Supportive Living Accommodations (SLAs) is stalled in the Ontario legislature.
Bill 135, the Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, would put in place licensing rules for privately operated SLAs, as well as increased protections to prevent mistreatment of vulnerable high-risk adults and seniors living in this type of housing. Included among the safeguards proposed in Forster’s bill is a provision that would require housing providers to be provincially licensed in order to collect ODSP cheques and other types of support payments on a resident’s behalf.
SLAs provide low-rent accommodation to vulnerable tenants, and often provide additional care services. In many cases, SLAs serve as an effective response to affordable housing shortages across the province, catering to high-need adults who may not necessarily qualify for long-term care.
According to Ms. Forster though “the lack of regulation and oversight of these services have, in some cases, exposed tenants to substandard living conditions resulting in physical harm and, tragically, even death. In 2014, despite numerous charges and warnings from municipal fire officials, a 72-year-old man died after a SLA home caught fire in London, Ontario.”
In Hamilton, members of the Coalition of Residential Care Facilities Tenants have contacted their five area MPP’s asking them to support the bill.
The Coalition was pleased that Ted McMeekin MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and a member of the government supports the bill.
However, the Bill isn’t moving forward. It passed second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government but has yet to be debated. As the governing party, the Liberals determine whether the bill goes to Committee for debate.
According to Paul Miller MPP for Hamilton East – Stoney Creek the Liberals have “dragged their heels on this legislation.”
Miller says his colleagues will continue to pressure the Wynne Government to move this bill forward in the legislature so that it will become law. They would also support this bill be incorporated into a government sponsored bill.
Hamilton Windsor and St. Thomas have by-laws in place that set standards of care. But why shouldn’t all Ontario have such protections?
Neal Schoen, a Paralegal at Justice Niagara, reports that 45 municipalities across the province have passed motions to call on the province to create provincially enforced standards.
What You Can Do
Advocates are encouraged to reach out to their MPPS. They should also contact the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins at firstname.lastname@example.org. to let him know that the Government should put Bill 135 on the committee agenda to move it forward.