COVID-19 and the Crisis in Long-Term Care in Ontario

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2108 ... May 30, 2020
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COVID-19 and the Crisis in Long-Term Care in Ontario

Ontario Health Coalition

The Ontario Health Coalition sent an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford signed by family councils, health professionals, social organizations, cultural organizations, seniors’ and retirees’ groups, health coalitions, legal clinics, and many others who collectively represent more than 1.5 million Ontarians. Almost unbelievably, the Ford government is rushing through their new home and community care law through the provincial legislature, Bill 175 Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act 2020, during the pandemic, after being hustled through first and second readings in early March. A Ontario Health Coalition Briefing Note on the Bill, Ford Government’s Home Care Changes Dismantle Public Control, Risks Privatization, follows the Open Letter.

Dear Premier Ford,

While we are pleased that your government has committed to independence, non-partisanship and transparency with regards to the commission into long-term care and COVID-19, we are seeking some assurances regarding both this commission and the immediate measures needed that cannot wait for a commission. In addition, we believe that it is... imperative that Ontario hold a full public commission or inquiry into the province’s overall response to COVID-19, like the SARS Commission, as there are many lessons to be learned from this experience beyond the long-term care sector.

To be clear, the Ontario Health Coalition called for the commission into long-term care to be under the Public Inquiry Act. You have voted against this in the Legislature. Failing that, Premier, we must state in the clearest possible terms that it will be unacceptable to the public if the commissioner(s) and any supporting staff are not fully independent of long-term care operators. Any long-term care commission must have unimpeachable credibility and operate in the public interest. This means it cannot be led or controlled by any partisan (political party) interests or by long-term care owners and operators. It must be transparent and open, not by invitation only. Access to the Commission must be equitable and it must allow for voices from families, residents, staff and their associations and unions, public interest groups and advocates who have worked closely on these issues. Care workers and professionals must be protected to speak on the record about conditions in the homes. Testimony and research must be on the record and fully available publicly as with formal commissions and inquiries in the past, and the commission must report as quickly as possible.

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