In the Auditor General of Ontario’s report on the issue of COVID-19 infections in long-term care facilities in Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk noted that any actions, “taken over the years have been insufficient to ensure that we would be better prepared as a province for the‘next time’.”
She noted that long-term-care homes were initially not partnered with hospitals or public health units to benefit from their expertise in infectious disease outbreaks, and that there was a lack of structured collaboration between different government bodies and agencies on issues such as infection prevention and control inspections.
Green Party of Canada Leader, Annamie Paul, responded to the report in a joint press conference with Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreine, calling for a national strategy on long-term care in Canada that would contain national standards for care and staffing.
They also called for an end to profit-making by government-funded long-term care facilities.
“For over a year now, Greens have been sounding the alarm on the tragic situation that has unfolded in Canada’s LTC homes, and still the federal government has not provided a plan for national standards,” said Annamie Paul.
“During this pandemic, we witnessed the unfolding of a humanitarian crisis, one that shamed Canada as the country with the worst record for COVID-19 deaths in LTC homes compared to other wealthy nations. Thousands of families, including my own, lost loved ones and we know that many of those deaths were preventable.”
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported that between March 2020 and February 2021 more than 80,000 residents and staff members of LTC homes were infected with COVID-19, resulting in the deaths of 14,000 residents and close to 30 staff.
“Now is the moment for the federal government to collaborate with provincial and territorial governments to create a system that functions, one that ensures that all residents of LTC receive the care they need and deserve. It’s important to acknowledge that residents of LTC are not only the elderly; there are many others who find themselves in need of round-the-clock support. For all those who lost loved ones, and for those who remain terrified for family members still in LTC, I say Enough! We must implement solutions now, not in a year from now.”
“Yesterday’s Ontario Auditor General’s report highlights multiple failures within the LTC system that contributed to the avoidable humanitarian crisis that unfolded,” said Mike Schreiner. “We owe it to elders and the staff who care for them to seize this moment to show that we are serious about caring for elders. This means not only creating national standards, but also investing in the staff who work in LTC.”