GTA MPs call on Ontario government to put five hardest hit long term care facilities under independent management

    Lieutenant Colonel James Stocker, Center, the Commanding officer of Territorial Battalion Group 1, has his temperature taken upon entering the Hawthorne Place Care Center in Toronto, Ontario on April 24, 2020. LCol Stocker was a member of a team of Canadian Armed Forces personnel that met with representatives from several long term care facilities in order to assess their needs during the COVID-19 epidemic. Photo:

    New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report, published on May 26, on the conditions at five Ontario long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic has made waves in the media and now in the federal politics. On the next day after the report‘s publication, five Members of Parliament representing the communities, which host long term care homes discussed in the report, issued joint letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and Premier of Ontario Doug Ford with a number of proposals.

    Following the revelation of disturbing details of neglect and abuse at the five homes, MPs Gary Anandasangeree (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre), Jennifer O’Connell (Pickering-Uxbridge), Hon. Judy Sgro (Humber River-Black Creek) and Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South) urged the Government of Ontario to immediately place the facilities on a Mandatory Management Order and appoint a third-party Manager to oversee all operations in these facilities.

    The measures, which are supposed to address the details reported in the CAF report include emergency health assessments of all of the residents living in these facilities; provision of full cleaning and sanitation of the facilities; establishment of full laundry services to ensure clean bedding and materials are available to all residents; a full inventory of all medication and medical supplies; and additional training for all staff in all long-term care homes in Ontario.

    The five MPs also urged the Government of Ontario to immediately establish a full public inquiry led by independent experts with representation from staff, families of survivors and current residents to identify the failings of the long-term care system in Ontario, determine the reasons for those failings and make specific recommendations. The MPs urged the federal government to call on the Government of Ontario to establish this kind of inquiry.

    The MPs believe that a public inquiry is needed because it is “the only way to ensure that the inquiry is independent and thorough.” The MPs believe that the currently planned commission, operating through the same government and department it will be tasked with reviewing, would not provide the balanced and independent investigation that a formal public inquiry can.

    The letters include the calls to both levels of government to work in partnership in the establishment and implementation of enforceable national standards for long-term care homes across Canada.

    MP Baker told NP-UN that he is supportive of the idea to allocate federal funding to turn around the situation in Canada’s long term care facilities for the better.

    He indicated, however, that federal funding should only be committed once two of the items are in place:

    1. A public inquiry in Ontario long-term care system that determines the steps that need to be taken to reform the system and the resulting funding needed;
    2. National enforceable standards for long-term care homes are designed.

    Baker noted that without standards “there is no assurance that the federal funding will be dedicated by the provinces to long-term care and that long-term care funding won’t be cut.”

    In the aftermath of the CAF report, the Government of Ontario reported that, as a result of the support it received from both the Canadian Armed Forces and the local hospitals, the issues identified in the five long-term care homes “have stabilized”.

    The government specified that, on May 10, CAF reported that 15 out of 20 categories (e.g. number of cases, proper cleaning procedures established, staffing available) across the five care homes were in high risk. As of May 25, there were only two categories still considered to be high risk, according to the government’s report.

    MP Baker, in turn, told NP-UN that, as of May 28, “there’s no evidence to suggest that those infractions, which the Canadian Armed Forces task force has identified, have been corrected.“