Ontario’s long-term care homes were neglected, sector needs reform, commission says

Ontario had no plan to address pandemic or protect residents in long-term care, final commission report says

"Care should be the sole focus of companies responsible for long-term care homes", it said.

As for the provincial government, recommendations for them include clearly defining the roles of the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care "in addressing health emergencies... and ensure that the safety of long-term care residents is reflected in any provincial emergency plan".

Proactive, comprehensive inspections: Another recommendation was that the Ministry of Long-Term Care conduct proactive, comprehensive, and annual inspections, and to respond to complaints and incidents reports in the required, legislated timelines.

The report says Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer, was particularly slow to act on the growing information about Covid-19.

The report also outlines in stark terms the plight of the long-term care workers who went to gruelling ends to care for their patients, at great risk to themselves and their families.

"Many continue to be traumatized as a result of this experience and will require ongoing counselling and support", the report reads. "Our calls for staff to have access to the highest level of personal protective equipment available were ignored", she says.

For residents, the mental health consequences were akin to those faced by prisoners in solitary confinement, the commissioners said.

Ontario launched the commission on May 19, 2020, in an effort to determine what went wrong in long-term care homes during the pandemic's first wave. The province's Long-Term Care Commission is expected to release their report today, and the OFL expects it to reach similar findings. Five staff members had also died of COVID-19 at that point. "By telling the truth and speaking out, pressing the issue and repeating these stories over and over again and reminding everyone, this should never have happened".

The Commission has already released two interim reports.

The commission found the neglected sector to be thoroughly unprepared for the COVID-19 crisis, despite numerous past reviews. Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Minister of Long Term Care Merrilee Fullerton must be held accountable.

Fullerton said they did all they could as fast as they could, but it was not enough.

She then walked out of the room after taking three questions and three follow up questions, even as reporters in the room asked her to stay as there were many more journalists who wanted to question her.

Earlier Friday, Ford said he welcomed the commission's report, as hard as it would be to read.

"This government has yet to hold any bad actors to account for the documented negligence that contributed to widespread fatalities in the majority for-profit facilities", said Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, Associate Teaching Professor at Ontario Tech University.

"It is clear and obvious that Ontario needs to develop, implement and maintain long-term solutions to care for its elderly and prepare them for future epidemics".

"We have a duty to those who lost their lives in this to make sure we don't accept anything less than moving forward with change _ building out the infrastructure, building the workforce and building the partnership in a way that allows us to reimagine what long-term care is and how we serve our aging population", she said.



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