IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN. It’s November 13. People are dying of Covid-19 in Long Term Care homes—again. Despite all the protestations and public laments of Doug Ford in Ontario and the willful denial of Francois Legualt in Québec, the nightmare is back. Right now. Today. Eight months after it started.
We are leaving our most vulnerable people in the care of private operators who have ignored, neglected, abused them during the first wave of Covid-19. Now, it’s happening again. It may be worse than the first time and more widespread across B.C., Alberta and Manitoba as well as Ontario and Quebec. We are sentencing people to death. Alone.
And while Doug Ford is having an inquiry and Francois Legault is ignoring the situation, people are dying. They are doing nothing to prevent a massacre. When it gets really bad they will call in the military to help with the body bags.
Criminal investigation required?
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is sounding the alarm in Ontario. They have called for the police to investigate the high rates COVID-19 deaths in privately owned Long Term Care homes. So, they should. After hundreds and maybe thousands of such deaths in the first wave,
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the virus has now killed 110 long-term care residents over the past two weeks. Along with the 29 deaths at Kennedy Lodge in Scarborough, at least nine residents of Ottawa’s West End Villa have died during this second wave.
Enough. What are we waiting for?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood up this week and called on the provinces to do more. We agree. But why can’t he and the federal government do more than offer to help clean up the mess? It will be too late then. Too many fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers will be dead.
Time to impose national standards
We call on PMJT to act now. Today. Put out national standards for Long Term Care homes in Canada and close any private operator who can’t or won’t immediately meet these standards. Let the provinces scream all they want about jurisdiction. We want him to intervene to save lives. Offer the provinces a deal they can’t refuse. More money to meet national standards or no money.
Join the call for Long Term Care homes that are publicly financed fully staffed with highly trained and skilled care givers represented by unions. Tell the federal government to act now to save lives today. We don’t want to say we told you so. We are telling you now.
----- NEWS REPORTS -----
‘Something very, very wrong’
CP24 and The Toronto Sun are among the media outlets reporting on the calls from OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas for an OPP investigation into the high rates of COVID-19 deaths in privately owned long-term care homes.
“Some level of law enforcement needs to do an investigation,” Thomas said in The Sun. “If you have a death in a jail, there’s always an investigation. We’ve had hundreds, a couple of thousand, deaths in long-term care homes.
“There’s just something very, very, very wrong here,” he said.
A spokesperson for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton did not rule out the need for a police investigation.
“Depending on the circumstances and the information available, the ministry may notify the police of any alleged, suspected or witnessed incident of abuse or neglect of a resident in a long-term care home that may constitute a criminal offence,” Fullerton’s spokesperson told The Sun. “The police would independently determine whether an investigation is warranted.”
----- OPSEU MEDIA RELEASE -----
‘Maybe it will take someone going to jail’
Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is urging Premier Doug Ford to call on the OPP to investigate an inordinate and unacceptable number of deaths in provincial, private-for-profit long-term care homes, including the 29 COVID-19 deaths that recently occurred at Kennedy Lodge in east Toronto.
“Maybe it will take someone going to jail to end this carnage,” said Thomas. “We know what’s needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. We know the safety equipment that’s required. And we know the safety measures, including appropriate PPE, that must be in place.
“Why are so many people in some of our long-term care homes continuing to die? At a time on the calendar when we commemorate those who protected this country, we must also acknowledge those who built it. It is often the same people.”
COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly across the province, but the outbreaks in private, as opposed to publicly operated, long-term care homes have been the deadliest by far. According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the virus has now killed 110 long-term care residents over the past two weeks.
Along with the 29 deaths at Kennedy Lodge in Scarborough, at least nine residents of Ottawa’s West End Villa have died during this second wave.
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says there are serious questions that must be answered about long-term care, and why residents continue to die in such high numbers.
“When our hospitals were cleared in the spring to deal with the first wave, were some of those patients sent to long-term care homes only to get sick and die?” asked Almeida. “What was hospital capacity in the spring? Why isn’t hospital capacity being addressed now?”
Thomas said the families of the victims need justice, and all Ontarians need assurance that urgent steps are being taken to prevent any more deaths.
“Enough is enough,” said Thomas. “Perhaps the Premier isn’t being told the truth about why all these deaths are happening, and what has to be done to stop them.
“The truth needs to come out. Someone has to be held to account.”
- 30 -