Long-term care public inquiry must include evaluation of the continuing role of for profit homes
QUEEN'S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says that Ontario deserves a broad and thorough public inquiry into long-term care, including why the system was in crisis before the pandemic hit; how the pandemic response left seniors homes so vulnerable; and an examination of the future of for-profit homes in Ontario.
“It’s heartbreaking to think of seniors left in understaffed, under-resourced nursing homes, with virtually no regulations in place to protect them, while COVID-19 swept through home after home. The staff who care for our most vulnerable have been run off their feet, and have been putting their lives at risk in facilities that don’t have enough personal protective equipment, and that may not have had proper isolation or infection control procedures in place.” Horwath said. “Tragically, residents and staff have lost their lives. We owe it to them, to their families and loved ones, to make major changes to this system, to protect every life from here on.”
Horwath said slow-to-arrive half-measures, loopholes and mixed messaging from the Ford government need to be examined by an independent public inquiry, as does the state of the system before the pandemic hit. She also wants different types of ownership in long-term care scrutinized, comparing outcomes for non-profit homes versus for-profit homes versus public, municipally-owned homes.
“I oppose profits being made by corporations in long-term care. Let’s lay all the facts on the table in a thorough and independent public inquiry,” said Horwath.
Data released Tuesday by the Ontario Health Coalition shows a significantly higher death rate due to COVID-19 in long-term care homes that are owned by for-profit corporations, compared to non-profit homes and public, municipal homes. The analysis showed that the rate of death was 9 per cent in for-profit homes, 5.25 per cent in non-profit homes and 3.62 per cent in publicly-owned, municipal homes.
“I envision a community-based non-profit and public seniors care system – one that doesn’t siphon away frontline funding to pad the pockets of multi-national corporations, but instead uses every penny to deliver the best care,” said Horwath. “This inquiry could be the start of putting Ontario on a new, better, safer and more dignified path.”
Privatization of long-term care increased dramatically in the 1990s under Premier Mike Harris. Harris is now the chair of the board for a massive long-term care for-profit corporation.