What is the value of a promise?
In some cases we have chastised government over the lack promises kept, such as the 10-year mental health strategy that never materialized. Or the lack of community-based resources that were supposed to replace a decade’s worth of hospital bed cuts. Or the long-delayed strategic plan for health care the Local Health Integration Networks were supposed to initially use as a guide for their own integrated health service plans.
In other cases, we’d rather hope the Minister of Health simply forgot some of her promises, such as the one to re-introduce competitive bidding to home care or base the decision to implement a resident quality inspection (RQI) on how many complaints and critical incidents a nursing home experiences. To her credit, both were policy duds and it appears were only offered up once and quickly abandoned.
Matthews has made many promises around fixing long-term care, as has her predecessors. Yet we get a regular serving of scandal on this file, evidence that the fix was either not happening or not happening quickly enough.
When we learned Monday that Matthews had taken the bold step of more than doubling the number of long-term care inspectors, we were both stunned and pleased by the news.
Oddly throughout the day we heard from a number of sources that Matthews had previously made this promise before and never followed through. The suggestion was we shouldn’t celebrate too quickly – at least not before we see the whites of the new inspectors’ eyes.