April 30, 2021
Long-Term Care Commission’s report expected to corroborate this
TORONTO– On April 28, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a damning report on the state of long-term care in Ontario including persistent overcrowding, poor Ministry oversight, and severe staffing shortages. The province’s Long-Term Care Commission is expected to release their report today, and the OFL expects it to reach similar findings.
In the Auditor General’s report, “COVID-19 Preparedness and Management: Special Report on Pandemic Readiness and Response in Long-Term Care”, Lysyk points the finger at both the provincial government and the nursing-home sector for failing to heed lessons learned by the SARS epidemic.
Lysyk reported that, “by late March 2020, when COVID-19 had begun its ravage of long-term-care homes, it became blatantly obvious that aggressive infection prevention, detection, and patient care actions were needed—and needed quickly—to prevent staggering death rates from becoming the norm across Ontario’s entire long-term-care community. Unfortunately, neither the Ministry of Long-Term Care, nor the long-term-care sector was sufficiently positioned, prepared or equipped to respond to the issues created by the pandemic in an effective and expedient way.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) mirrors this sentiment in their latest campaign: Premier Ford, do your job so workers don’t die doing theirs. In it, the OFL took the government to task on countless reports that include life-saving recommendations.
“Archie Campbell’s words from the SARS Commission continue to haunt us. He warned, ‘If we do not learn from SARS and we do not make the government fix the problems that remain… we will pay a terrible price in the next pandemic.’ Workers are now paying that price. And the Ford Government has blood on their hands,” said Patty Coates, OFL President. “Our collective action is intensifying. We will hold Ford’s government to account for their failures.”
“The Auditor General issued a clarion call for change and the response from the Ford Government was to blame everyone else, take no responsibility, and change nothing,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “Staffing and care levels have never been so egregious. It is squarely in Mr. Ford’s power to get the staffing up, but they will not do it. It is disgraceful.”
The Auditor General’s report includes 16 recommendations, with 55 action items to address.
- Sufficient staffing levels and ratios: A key recommendation is for the Ministry of Long-Term Care to address root causes of staffing shortages. The report shared unbelievable staff ratios, of one nurse to 99 residents. In one home, 50 per cent of staff were on a floor, forcing them to transfer between positive COVID-19 units and non-COVID-19 units.
- 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 provided a figure showing 13 of 15 long-term care homes with the highest number of resident deaths were for-profit entities. And, that 15 of 16 homes where over half of the home’s residents contracted COVID-19, were primarily for-profit homes with older bedroom designs.
“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. “Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that ownership matters when it comes to protecting our residents and not only has this government failed to accept personal responsibility for their role in leaving our residents vulnerable, they further deny the damning evidence against for-profit delivery.” For Stamatopoulos, any meaningful reform must address the role of ownership and prioritize non-profit and municipal LTC delivery given their demonstrated superiority in care provisioning.
Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, solicited by the Ford Government in July 2020, is set to publish its final report today. Ahead of its release, Ford held a press conference today and acknowledged it will be hard to read, but failed to acknowledge his government as the cause of any hardship. Instead, Ford has passed the buck to previous governments who he charged with neglecting the sector for decades. The Commission is set to investigate how and why COVID-19 spread rapidly in long-term care homes, what was done to prevent the spread, and where the government should take further action. Preliminary reports highlight a shortage of personal support workers, nurses, and other healthcare workers, among other structural issues. The Commission has already released two interim reports.
“Clearly, Doug Ford has failed workers, seniors, their families, caregivers, Ontarians. Our long-term care system needs radical reform,” said Coates.
For more information, please contact:
Director of Communications
Ontario Federation of Labour
email@example.com l 416-894-3456