Top Stories 2021

May 7, 2021

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:


May 3, 2021

Fixing long-term care in Ontario is looking increasingly hopeless

André Picard, The Globe and Mail

The 322-page final report of Ontario’s Long-term Care Commission was released at 7:18 p.m. on Friday night – the political equivalent of taking a shovel, digging a deep hole, and burying it. 

Then, on Monday morning, the province delivered another slap in the face to Ontario’s elders when Long-term care Minister Merrilee Fullerton offered up a mealy-mouthed response to the report, featuring such gems as “fixing the problem will take many solutions.” 

There is nothing surprising or new in the report, though that’s not a knock on the commissioners. It’s hard to come up with anything groundbreaking when more than 150 reports have been written since the advent of medicare about how to fix the hellishly inadequate long-term care system. 

There is nothing unexpected in the government’s response, either. Blaming previous governments for all failings and making vague commitments to do something, sometime – that’s all standard political fare. 

But at some point, politicians have to stop commissioning reports that they intend to send directly to the dumpster and start implementing the long-overdue and eminently sensible recommendations therein. 

If you’re a subscriber, you can read the rest here:


April 30, 2021

Short-term thinking about long-term care

The Citizen Editorial Board, The Ottawa Citizen

No one wants to spend their later years in an institution. So why don’t we focus more on how to keep them out of one? Yet this is still what governments focus on: not keeping people healthy at home – which would make them happier, prolong their lives and likely cost the health system less – but on “fixing” a model of institutional care that promises low quality of life for residents, low pay for workers, and insufficient resources for everyone.

Read the rest here:


March 4, 2021

Advocating for a loved one in an Ontario care home should not be a crime

Joel Harden, NDP MPP, The Ottawa Citizen

Mom is sullen and withdrawn. So you investigate; you talk to care workers and raise concerns to managers. Soon after arrives a letter by registered mail form the home’s management (it arrives by email, too). “This letter is notice that you are no longer permitted at the home,” it reads. “Your presence at the home is disruptive and disrespectful of staff and residents, and it is our obligation to provide a safe environment. If you attempt to enter, the police will be called for a trespass violation.”

Sound familiar? Read the complete article here:

Update: On Friday, March 5, Joel Harden presented Motion 129 for debate to insist that the use of trespass orders end. The motion called “Voula’s Law” was passed unanimously.