SEIU President: Long-Term Care Commission Not Enough

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Ontario is launching an independent commission into the province's long-term care system in September, but the president of the Service Employees' International Union Health Care believes it's not enough.

Sharlene Stewart says more needs to be done now as nearly 1,400 long-term care residents have died amid COVID-19 outbreaks, as well as five staff members.

"First of all, why is it taking so long? Why does the premier and the minister insist on holding this until September, when we're anticipating a second wave of the virus hitting the province? Secondly, I'm still concerned over the fact that it is not an inquiry," says Stewart.
     
The Ontario Long-Term Care Association, opposition parties and SEIU have all called for a full public inquiry into the sector.

Stewart says a commission may not uncover all the problems.

"A commission has the potential to be more politically driven than an independent inquiry. I worry that this commission, rather than an inquiry, isn't going to give us the clear transparency that we need. I'm fearful too that it won't be independent," she says.

Stewart is questioning just how authority the commission will have.

"The commission has to immediately see what went wrong over the last few months, be able to open up the books of the companies and the for-profits that have the higher levels and death and infection in them. What is the government and these homes hiding that they don't want to get to the bottom of this right now?"

The number of long-term care homes experiencing an outbreak has grown over the past few weeks even as the government has imposed more restrictions and implemented widespread testing.