Letter: Laying down responsibility for the long term care disasters

We must never again let governments neglect our LTC residents and staff

To the Expositor:

We are all watching in horror as report after report comes in on the decimation of long term care (LTC) homes by COVID-19. High numbers of residents testing positive, getting very sick and dying and LTC workers also testing positive, getting sick and some even dying!

The public is reeling at these reports saying why, how could this be happening? We had no idea things were this bad inside Ontario’s nursing homes!

I think it is time for people to come to terms with the answers to those questions so that there will be a huge public out-cry and from that to assure that never again will the provincial government be allowed to neglect the sector that cares for our most vulnerable!

The LTC crisis began years ago with the election of the Mike Harris conservative provincial government. Mike ‘The Knife’ Harris, as he was infamously named by healthcare workers, went on a slash’n burn rampage of the entire healthcare system and hit LTC especially hard. After Harris came the Liberal governments of McGuinty and Wynne which were continued times of underfunding for the LTC sector and then, just when the sector thought things couldn’t get worse, in comes Doug Ford and his minions Christine Elliot and Merrilee Fullerton swinging the axe!

Continued cuts and gross underfunding to the sector set Ontario’s LTC homes up for the perfect storm. And when COVID-19 came to Ontario that storm hit LTC with a terrible blow!

Now we fast forward and look inside the eye of the storm and you will never guess who we found lurking inside this storm, none other than The Knife himself! The former Tory premier is the chairman of the board of Chartwell Retirement Homes where, as of April 10, 2019, he was paying his PSWs $14.35 per hour while ole’ slash’n burn himself was pulling in $237,000 per year!

Now we’ll move over to two LTC homes, Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville and Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke (Dougie Ford’s backyard). In Anson Place 27 residents are dead and in Eatonville 48 are dead. At these homes the very large and well respected association that represents Ontario’s registered nurses (ONA) had filed a court injunction against the homes citing that both facilities’ management failed to enact proper safety measures for residents and staff in response to COVID-19, furthering to state management failed to provide nursing staff with proper access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and severely limiting nursing staff from accessing N-95 masks! When questioned on this injunction, Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of LTC stated that “The Government had all PPE in place and readily available to staff” and that she is working around the clock to ensure the safety of all residents and staff. Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing all other workers in these facilities, made a statement saying that, “The COVID-19 situation was especially poorly handled by the management, describing it as careless and reckless. SEIU even went so far as saying that things were so bad inside these homes that they felt the province needed to take over immediately. To this Minister Fullerton responded, “Ontario is not in the business of taking over homes.”

Numbers like what just came out of Maple View Home in Owen Sound, where 22 of 29 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 along with 15 staff is proof of just how terribly this beast of a virus is hitting our LTC homes, with no end in sight yet. 

It is a sad, sad thing that it has had to come to devastation of LTC like this, to finally convince the public 100 percent that LTC has been in crisis for years and now with the perfect storm of past and present events it has become a national disaster and disgrace.

We—the public, the taxpayers, the voters—must never again let government neglect our LTC residents and staff. We must remember what they have sacrificed to show us the way ahead. The people, for the people, never again will let LTC be the forgotten ones. We must and we will assure that our most vulnerable and those who care for them are, for evermore, treated with the full respect that they have always deserved!

Thank you,

Greg Young