Quebec coroner says many people share blame for high death toll in COVID first wave

Quebec's coroner says there is plenty of blame to go around for the deaths of 47 residents of a private Montreal-area long-term care home during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coroner Gehane Kamel says the provincial government, the local health authority and the owners of the Herron care home "passed the ball around" while residents were left to die.

She spoke to reporters today for the first time since releasing her report earlier this week on her investigation into 53 deaths at several long-term care homes -- including Herron -- during the pandemic's first wave.

Kamel says her mandate wasn't to blame specific people but to make recommendations so that a similar situation doesn't reoccur.

Her report says residents of Quebec long-term care homes were kept in a blind spot while the provincial government reacted to the oncoming wave of the novel coronavirus in the spring of 2020. Almost 4,000 residents died between March and June of that year.

Patrick Martin-Menard, a lawyer who represented some of the families of people whose deaths were investigated by Kamel, says that her report is a good first step but that a full public inquiry is needed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.

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