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Over 30 people brought a clear message to Health Minister George Smitherman’s annual summer picnic:  3.5 hours per day for a minimum standard for long-term care now!

People coming to sunny Allan Gardens park in Toronto this past Saturday were greeted by a friendly gauntlet of seniors, health coalition activists and CUPE members campaigning in rocking chairs and on foot for better long-term care. 

Passersby signed petitions and took buttons and information on the campaign to press the McGuinty government to introduce standards that would get residents of nursing home and other long-term care facilities better care.  The government has promised it, but hasn’t delivered it.

This simple contradiction seems to be lost on health minister George Smitherman, who stopped at the protest on his way to “work” the picnic.  Smitherman was equal parts friendly politician and fierce partisan defender of his government’s failure to introduce a simple regulation to improve the quality of care patients receive.

His debating tactics included misrepresentations of his opponents’ arguments, casting aspersions on our motivations and miscasting our opposition to his government as support for the Conservatives.  In other words, he couldn’t explain why his government has failed to introduce a minimum care standard, so he had to resort to bluster and partisan rhetoric. 

Protesters took it upon themselves to march through the picnic grounds, calling on Smitherman to keep his promise as the line-up for hotdogs and barbecued corn meandered under the speckled sun.  Support for our message was high, with many more signing petitions and taking buttons. 

The health minister can count on more pressure to come as the election campaign draws closer. 

Click here to see photographs