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Married 60 years, Cambridge seniors separated by circumstance

A local senior says he's been trying for the better part of the last half-decade to be reunited with his wife of more than 60 years
Screenshot 2021-09-15 5.42.56 PM
Fairview Mennonite Home on Langs Drive in Cambridge.

'Till death do us part.'

It's a vow often made between spouses and one local MPP says she hopes it's one the province will be willing to make to its seniors.

Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife has confirmed she will be reintroducing early in September her 'Till Death Do Us Part Act', aimed at helping keep couples together in long-term care.

This is, however, the same bill which has been left to die twice previously and the government has so far sent no signals this time will be any different.

"Most of the people I've spoken to don't really have much empathy," said local senior Jim McLeod. "Catherine Fife has done an excellent job and I applaud her for that."

Jim and Joan McLeod have spent the last more than six decades together in marriage and yet, for the last four plus years, they've been separated by circumstance.

That's because Jim lives in assisted living at Fairview Mennonite in Cambridge while Joan lives in long-term care at Hilltop Manor, and Jim said he's been trying for more than four years to have her moved to the long-term care at his building so they can be closer together.

"I'm just trying all avenues to make this happen," he said, adding he knows of three others in his building in a similar situation. "And it just makes no sense to me."

"I'd like to ask any bureaucrats who might be listening what would they do if their parents or grandparents were in the same situation?"

Jim did also acknowledge the limited number of available long-term care spaces but pointed out moving from one home to another would not require a new bed, as the room his wife would leave behind would then be available for someone else.

Jim and Joan's situation, meantime, is not unique and it's one of several MPP Fife has raised previously in the legislature at Queen's Park.

"Five long years have passed," Fife told colleagues in the legislature earlier this week. "The pandemic revealed how broken the caring of seniors has become under successive governments."

"Dignity and integrity are at the heart of reuniting seniors in the last years of their marriage or partnership, one could also argue compassion and humanity," she went on. "If we can agree that separating couples in their last years is wrong, let's change that. Let's make it a priority."