By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv
“Minister Mesec is obliged to provide additional funds due to the increase of labour costs under the current long-term care act!! There are enough funds. The third paragraph of Article 130 is clear. But of course, now there won’t be any funds left, and he will transfer the burden of payment to the shoulders of those who need care,” MP Hoivik responded to the evasions and incompetence of the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Luka Mesec.
It is more than obvious that for at least another year, we will continue to hear infantile excuses about how the incompetence of the government of Robert Golob and its ministers is somehow the fault of the former government of Janez Janša or the current right-wing opposition. While it is common in developed Western democracies for the media to consistently watch over the work of any government, regardless of its ideological orientation, this is not the case in our country. If every move of the previous Prime Minister and his colleagues was constantly under the scrutiny of the critics on duty, things are completely different now. No more criticising and tearing people to shreds, no matter how bad the slip-up. No matter how stupid a statement comes from, say, Robert Golob’s mouth, the media shows it as acceptable, even cute or sweet…
For example, the public media outlets Radio-Television Slovenia and the Slovenian Press Agency have recently highlighted the words of the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Luka Mesec, who said that due to the referendum on the amendment to the Long-Term Care Act, as of autumn, the fees in homes for the elderly will be 22 percent higher! According to the Slovenian Press Agency, the government intends to postpone the implementation of this law from the 1st of January 2023 to the 1st of January 2024, while at the same time, it also intends to provide homes for the elderly with an additional 30 million euros in autumn. As a result, the new staffing norm should also make it easier for them to survive.
However, the Minister of Labour believes that the SDS – Slovenian Democratic Party’s initiative to launch a referendum on the changes to the law has fallen through, and therefore, homes for the elderly will be left without the additional money that has been promised. For further clarification, we turned to the Member of European Parliament Romana Tomc from the SDS party’s ranks, who pointed out that the minister’s excuses are due to his incompetence: “A minister who explains that the prices of care fees in homes for the elderly will be higher because of the referendum should be removed from office, either because he is incompetent, because he is not up to the job and cannot provide money for the salaries of the staff in the homes for the elderly, or because he is lying.”
The unsustainable situation is being perpetuated by delaying the law’s implementation
“Today, Luka Mesec is a Minister, and as such, he is expected to take action. We are not interested in finding reasons why something cannot be done. We are interested in solutions.” For a decade now, homes for the elderly have been neglected, understaffed, there are not enough caregivers, wages have been and continue to be poor, there is insufficient space, and the buildings are largely inadequately equipped to effectively deal with the coronavirus epidemic. This was a situation that was brought about by underestimating the demographic situation. Covid-19 exposed in a very crude way a situation that had been a known problem for a long time but had been pushed aside. This unsustainable situation and the avoidance of addressing the situation is being perpetuated by delaying the Long-Term Care Act’s entry into force. “This is extremely damaging and intolerable.”
Today, however, the situation in homes for the elderly is still much better than it was. “A lot has been done in the last two years. European funding has also been secured. To put the icing on the cake, the Long-Term Care Act has finally been adopted as an umbrella law that will regulate the whole area, not only institutional care but also home care, e-care, allowances for family members, benefits and much more.” It is difficult to understand why there is such resistance and what the real reasons are for the government trying to prevent the implementation of the law in question at all costs. The price for further delays will be high indeed and will be measured in reduced quality of life and, ultimately, even in lives lost that could have been saved if care services had arrived on time. This is precisely the damage we are trying to prevent with this referendum.
Who wants to “earn” at the expense of the pensioners?!
“We are trying to get long-term care implemented now, and not at an unspecified time in the future, which is what the government wants.” Of course, the danger is that the future date of the law being implemented will keep on being delayed indefinitely, and in the meantime, the money earmarked for it will evaporate into thin air. “In addition, we are also at risk of losing European funding for not fulfilling the promises made to the European Commission, where long-term care is one of the milestones.” Long-term care is not a matter of political ideology nor of big capital interests. It is simply a question of whether we as a society are mature enough to recognise care for the elderly as one of our basic norms, as something that needs to be a regular part of our lives. However, the first moves of the Golob government have made it clear what the priorities of the new government are. Judging by their actions and not their empty promises, it is clear that the elderly are not all that important to the members of the current government.