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Our Top 10 People Stories Of '23: #6 Kept apart in long-term care

CambridgeToday counts down its favourite people stories of 2023
Jim McLeod stands with a binder full of letters and emails he has sent to Ontario MPPs to help reunite him and his wife in long-term care

Jim McLeod and his wife Joan have been married for 65 years, but for the last six, they have been separated because of an Ontario policy that allows long term care homes to separate married couples if one's care needs are different and there isn't enough space to accommodate them together.

Jim lives in Fairview Mennonite home in Cambridge, while Joan was transferred to a long-term care home 25 minutes away at Hilltop Manor.


Over the last six years, Jim has been trying everything in his power to reunite with Joan. He has taken it upon himself to contact every single member of provincial parliament to plead his case and encourage their support of legislation first brought to the table in 2019 by Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife. 

The 'Till Death Do Us Part Act' or Bill 21, and would make it a priority to keep senior couples together as they enter long-term care homes. 

The bill was passed unanimously in the house, but was referred to the Social Policy Committee where it has been sitting for a year.

Cambridge MPP Brian Riddell sits as the chair of the social policy committee and thinks that if Bill 21 is passed, it would have unintended consequences on the long-term care system. 

"There are nearly 40,000 people on the wait list for long-term care, stemming from a combination of an aging population and a sector that was systemically underfunded for years by former governments," said Riddell. "The bill does not include care requirements for reunification, meaning spouses with minimal care needs or who do not need long-term care at all could be pushed toward the top of the wait list at the expense of others in urgent need of care."

Despite those concerns, Cambridge councillors sent a resolution to the province in October demanding changes to the Long Term Care Act that prevent couples from being separated.

Jim McLeod believes council's support for spousal reunification in long-term care homes, which joins with several other municipalities across the province, is a step in the right direction.

Read the full story HERE.