Ontario Health Coalition calls for military intervention at long-term care homes battling outbreaks
The Ontario Health Coalition, a non-profit that represents health-care professionals and patients, is calling on the government to redeploy the Canadian Armed Forces to help contain outbreaks at hard-hit long-term care homes across the province, struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
One of the biggest outbreaks has been going on at Tendercare Living Centre in Scarborough since early December.
There are more than 120 active resident cases and about 60 active staff cases at Tendercare. At least 60 residents there have died (up from 53 reported this morning), due to COVID-19 complications, during this second wave.
Protesters who were outside the facility Saturday afternoon are asking the government for better oversight.
Advocates want to see an end to privatization in long-term care and want the Ford government to revisit a provincial act limiting liability for private operators.
"Over the course of the pandemic, long-term care homes have been at the forefront of quite alot of tragedy and quite alot of death, so when the government, in the middle of the pandemic, passes the 'Supporting Ontario Recovery Act' to limit liability, to make sure that the negligence standard is raised so high that the average individual or the average resident cannot get answers in court, that's a big issue for me," said lawyer Rocco Achampong, who was there in solidarity with protesters.
"One of the things that I'll be doing in the coming weeks," said Achampong, "is to file an application in court, to see whether or not we can beat back the government's attempt to limit its own liability, when it comes to being responsible and giving answers to residents of Scarborough and/or persons whose families may have been affected in long-term care homes."
Other prominent long-term care advocates were also on hand including former NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo: "It's disgusting. It's a humanitarian crisis and the reason it's able to happen is that the government has not stepped in. There's no real oversight happening here. There are doctors and nurses happy to help out, but they're also under stress where they work. So, what should have happened is we should have absolutely paid - you know - the staff more and we should have been prepared, knowing the first wave, to have twice as many staff in these places."
DiNovo adds, "Many of these staff do not even get sick pay...This is outrageous and it's been allowed to happen, not only here, but right across the sector."
A spokesperson for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton released a statement about Tendercare today:
"Staffing at the home is now above levels during normal operations for personal support workers and registered staff. Infection Prevention and Control audits have shown significant improvement this week. Environmental Services staff are on-site and continue to clean the home.”
The statement goes on to thank staff at North York General Hospital, as well as those from Tendercare Living Centre for working around the clock to help stop the outbreak, "We remain committed to doing everything we can, along with our partners, to help stabilize the home and have them return to normal operations.”
North York General has taken over management of Tendercare Living Centre.