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LETTER: PC plan panders to cash flow, not residents in LTC homes

More staff and more oversight is required at Ontario's long-term care homes along with more inspections, letter writer says
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to supporters at his rally at the Holly Community Centre in Barrie during the provincial election campaign in this file photo from May 2018. Kevin Lamb for BarrieToday

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Proposed legislation aimed at COVID-related lawsuits expected to protect businesses' published on Oct. 22. 

This second wave of COVID-19 exposes more evidence of failure in our system of care for fragile seniors. After nine months, failed leadership and inaction by the Ford government is coming to roost – again.

Our esteemed representatives in Simcoe County manage to show up for photo-ops, but cannot be seen anywhere near the facilities in question. They have no answers. Should we assume they have no interest?

Do they have no words of comfort for the families of those we have lost – or for the people stagnating in these warehouses?

Do they have no concern for the burnout of staff, who often work with little support to provide the best care they can?

Perhaps they only have concern for the profits of private facilities. Do they only respond to the cries of lobbyists for the industry – Bill Davis, Ernie Eves, Michael Wilson, Brenda Akers, Leslie Noble, and other offshoots of Conservative government now working for Chartwell, Revera, Extendicare, etc.?

If true, they must bear some culpability for deaths that follow.

Premier Doug Ford pledged to review the findings of the Canadian military – findings which we have all seen. In a letter to the government, Ford’s own Long-Term Care (LTC) COVID-19 Commission said the homes must hire more personal support workers and nurses.

The commission also said the province should implement Ford’s own staffing plan, which recommended a minimum of four hours of direct care per resident per day.

Of interest is the pushback on this very same plan when presented to Parliament by the opposition. A vote to put the Ford government's four-hours-of-daily-care plan into action was defeated – by the Ford government.

Instead, we see legislation that protects long-term care facilities from lawsuits – limiting this to “gross misconduct," a condition virtually impossible to prove in court.

Pandering to the cash flow from the long-term care and insurance industries, the government has moved to insulate them from culpability in the deaths of your family members. Profits and dividends for people like Mike Harris and Ernie Eves are safe, even if your parents are not.

The CBC reports that 85 per cent of private LTC operators are flagrant in ignoring the regulations. Maybe our representatives should be demanding, and monitoring for, real, decent care – or accept accountability in the deaths of over 1,900 seniors.

Testimony of staff from across facilities and across professions has been clear over many years and several administrations – more staff and oversight is required, not less.

This has now been substantiated by the government’s own commission, which (of interest within a conservative government) suggests “….the province must spend more money, on a permanent basis, so the homes can hire more personal support workers and nurses.”

Well, rather than having taxpayers pay more so LTC operators can protect their shareholders, the opposition (you know, those tax, tax spend, spend folks) suggested Ford should be demanding LTC owners use their own profits to improve care services.

Maybe we should be inspecting more, not less. Maybe we should require four hours of care, like the government plan stated? But that proposal was shot down by the raft of clapping seals.

Instead of acting on their party’s own plan, (local MPPs) Doug Downey, Jill Dunlop, Andrea Khanjin and the rest have been like absentee slumlords. They put forth a bill to limit the liability of LTC facilities – perhaps to protect sources of donations? Perhaps to protect the jobs of former staffers now lobbying for the industry?

Please explain how this helps our dying seniors. Please explain how this will make lives better for fragile elders. Please explain why we should not hold the profitable corporations liable for their penny-pinching practices.

Please explain how you are not culpable in the deaths of seniors on your watch. You signed up for this job – do it.

Dennis Rizzo