A Conversation with Senator Tony Loffreda - Part 1

At Caring Support we're all about connections. Connecting with the right people at the right moment is what sets us apart because it allows us to grow, learn, and expand, not just as a platform, but as a community. With that in mind, we recently connected with Senator Tony Loffreda, an independent parliamentarian who represents the province of Quebec and cares a lot about the healthcare sector; and we didn't miss the opportunity to have a conversation with him about some topics of interest for all stakeholders in healthcare.

This is a clip from the first part of the enriching and positive conversation some members of our team had with him earlier this month:

In this first part, we ask Senator Loffreda his thoughts on the staffing crisis that is affecting the healthcare sector across the country and how does he think the government could better address this crisis, and his answer was:

"I recognize there is a staffing crisis in our healthcare sector, but I also want to underscore the heroes in our healthcare sector that have been doing tremendous work throughout the pandemic. I truly believe the pandemic simply magnified what we already knew: our nurses, our doctors, our PSWs, and the entire healthcare staff has always been knowledgeable, caring, and professional, and has always shown empathy to their work and patients, so that has not changed. We all knew that, and I thank them for it. We have all seen the value of their work and I can’t say enough thank you."

Senator Loffreda added that "health is a provincial jurisdiction here in Canada and I am a Senator from Quebec, which means that the provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the management, organization, and delivery of healthcare services for the residents. The federal government has a major role to play in terms of providing funding to provinces and territories at a national level. The government has other bureaucratic responsibilities, such as regulating products, medical devices, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. It also supports health research, promotion, and protection, as well as disease monitoring and prevention. In my opinion, the single most important way the federal government can help provinces address the staffing crisis in the healthcare sector is by providing more funding, which is something all the provinces all calling for. So, it’s about funding, it’s about resources, and we have all seen the importance of resources in the healthcare sector. The key is providing the adequate resources, getting the right people - committed, engaged - on the job."

Subsequently, we asked Senator Loffreda to give us a speak peak about new legislations in favor of the healthcare sector that healthcare workers can expect to see this year, and his answer was:

"As an independent senator, with no ties to the government, It’s difficult for me to predict what type of legislation the federal government might introduce this year, and unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball. However, I think we can make some educated guesses about what kind of bills the government might introduce or what funding announcements will be made based on some of their campaign promises for the last federal election: The liberals promised to provide 3.2 billion dollars for the hiring of 7,500 new family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners that, as we know, are well needed; 400 million over 4 years to build on the growing demand for virtual care that arose during the pandemic; offered healthcare professionals who are just starting out in their careers a one-time income tax deduction up to 15,000 dollars over the first three years of practice to help with the cost of setting up a practice, and to establish the new Canada mental health program to assist provinces in expanding the delivery of high quality, accessible, and free mental health services. Last but not least, they promised to fully fund a national, free, and digital mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline."

"The liberals also made promises during the campaign to address the challenges in long-term care facilities in Canada, and the development of the safe long-term care act, to ensure that seniors are guaranteed the care they deserve, no matter where they live. Also, raising the wages for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) including a guaranteed minimum wage of at least 25 dollars an hour, and training up to 50,000 new personal support workers. This is just a sample of some of the promises that the liberals campaigned and were reelected on, so it’s probably safe to say that more money is likely coming to the provinces to address these issues and the staffing crisis in the healthcare sector because we do have a staffing crisis, as we all know in this point in time, and healthcare is so important" he added.

Moreover, Senator Loffreda said "I do want to mention one bill that received Royal Assent just before the holidays and that includes provisions specific to healthcare workers, Bill C3, which received royal assent on December 17. It's an Act to amend the Criminal Code that creates a new intimidation offense to protect healthcare workers and persons seeking health services. The amendments made it a criminal offense for individuals to use fear to stop a healthcare worker or those who assist them from performing their duties or prevent people from obtaining health services. That’s an important bill. We have all have heard horrifying stories in the last year of healthcare workers being bullied, threatened, and intimidated. Like the government, I agree that everyone deserves to feel safe when seeking or providing health services, which is why I voted in favor of the bill."

About our interviewee:

Tony Loffreda is a Canadian Senator representing the province of Québec. He was appointed on the advice of the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, on the recommendation of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments on July 23rd, 2019. He is a member of the Independent Senators Group (ISG) and currently serves on the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Finance and the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce.

For more information about Senator Loffreda, visit https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/loffreda-tony/

Stay tuned for part 2 of this interesting and enlightening conversation!

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