Kamal Khera knows exactly what it’s like to work in a long-term care home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 32-year-old MP for Brampton West answered the call from registered nurses, former and retired, to join long-term care home staff in the first wave nearly two years.
She was deployed to Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor in Brampton, a non-profit home that received assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces to support personnel.
It’s lived experiences like this that Khera says will benefit him in his new title as Minister of Seniors.
âMy experience at Grace Manor, I think of a lot of things, especially in this new role,â she said while adding: âI had to face the harsh truth and I am extremely proud to do part of the government that ensured that the elderly were supported to put their boots on the ground.
Khera was appointed to the new post on October 26 and already has ambitious plans to support seniors while representing voters in her constituency.
She cites strengthening the financial security of older people, improving long-term care facilities, and supporting older people to live at home for as long as they can as key elements in the process. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Platform Agenda.
While it recognizes that long-term care homes fall largely under provincial jurisdiction, it has a number of initiatives that can support staffing within the sector at the federal level.
This includes increasing wages for personal support workers with a minimum wage of $ 25 an hour and training 50,000 new workers.
When talking about her past experiences as a nurse and her recent stint at Grace Manor, Khera never misses the opportunity to recognize the strength of those with whom she has worked and who she believes will benefit from these initiatives. .
At Grace Manor, she recalls the story of a nurse named Heather, who âliterally lived and stayed home for 14 daysâ working days and nights as the house struggled with a staff shortage. .
“I will never forget her, she always had a smile on her face,” Khera said.
She also tells the story of when personnel and military personnel were able to get the last COVID-19 positive resident out of isolation, which resulted in a roar of cheers and tears.
“I think at that point, after weeks of horrific circumstances including death, it was a welcome sign at the end of the tunnel.”
Holland Christian Homes, owner of Grace and Faith Manors, was originally named in a $ 20 million class action lawsuit initiated by Will Davidson LLP which the alleged owners have failed to “institute reasonable measures to prevent COVID-19 from infecting residents,” among other allegations.
This class action lawsuit has now been transferred to a consortium of eight law firms working to process legal claims against 400 LTC homes.
According to Peel Public Health, 12 residents have died at Grace Manor and 29 at Faith Manor since the start of the pandemic.
Arlene Reid, a personal support worker assigned to a non-COVID-19 unit at Grace Manor, died of the virus in May 2020.
These are undeniable tragedies, for which Khera is committed to working alongside the Ontario Ministry of Health to ensure they do not happen again.
The Liberal Party platform also promises improvements in the quality and availability of LTC beds and stricter infection control and prevention measures.
But Khera also aims to improve seniors in Brampton, where a diverse community has different experiences and perspectives.
âI will make sure that these diverse voices are heard and that these perspectives are taken into account. Different demographics have different experiences, one glove is not suitable for all, âshe said.
As a young woman of color and immigrant, Khera said she felt “honored” to be named Minister of Seniors and to have a place in the Trudeau cabinet.
“Obviously, it is a privilege and an honor to have the confidence of the Prime Minister and I take this responsibility very seriously,” she said.