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Ontario’s COVID deaths in long-term care were predictable, but no one acted to prevent them

Brigitte Pellerin, The Ottawa Citizen

Government officials look us in the eye and tell us nobody is more important than our elders — but don’t mean it.

It’s amazing to realize it has taken a pandemic, thousands of deaths and a comprehensive commission report to tell us that treating humans like products from which to make a profit is a terrible idea. Prioritizing the economy over people hurts both, whereas putting people at the centre of care, as the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission report recommends, benefits both. If only we could have thought of that by ourselves.

The commission report, which came out late last Friday, makes for horrendous reading. Having followed along and read all the transcripts since September, I had a good idea what it would contain. Be honest now: Is there anything in there that surprises you?

The human tragedy that has gripped the province’s long-term care sector and is still making residents’ lives miserable more than a year later — Ontario is just now starting to lift some of the confinement restrictions where long-term care residents are vaccinated — was entirely predictable, predicted, and not at all prevented. Because we consistently refused to put people ahead of economic considerations. 

The worst indictment from the report isn’t the low staff levels or the old buildings where people share bathrooms or the abuse we occasionally hear about. The worst indictment is the fact that everyone who should have known, knew in March 2020 that they needed to prevent long-term care staff from working in more than one home and needed to make masks mandatory. That evidence was crystal-clear and in jurisdictions that took those actions at that time the number of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care was much lower.

The Long-Term Care Commission report notes that the majority of long-term care residents who died in the first wave contracted COVID-19 between late March and late April 2020. How many lives would have been saved if the government had acted earlier? If masks and restricting all staff to one home had been implemented a month earlier, how many would have been spared the agony of suffocating to death?

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/pellerin-ontarios-covid-deaths-in-long-term-care-were-predictable-but-no-one-acted-to-prevent-them

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