The commission found only 27 homes were inspected last year, far fewer than in previous years. Inspectors looked at only 11 of the province’s 670 nursing homes proactively from March 1 after the pandemic hit to Oct. 15.
The result, the commission said, are wide gaps in what the government knows about infection prevention and control in the homes as well as their emergency preparedness.
The commission recommends resumption of annual resident quality inspections in all homes and more intensive follow-ups on complaints.
Enforcement of orders was another concern, the report says. The ministry relies on voluntary compliance by nursing homes, without mandatory verification of actual compliance.
Inspectors issue mandatory orders only in “extreme circumstances,” the report says, noting only 21 were handed out between January 2019 and August 2020.
Fines or prosecutions are “rarely applied,” resulting in a “lack of urgency” from home operators to address violations.
In addition, management of long-term care homes has been at best uneven, the commission concludes.
“We heard that homes where leaders were visible and provided clarity around staff roles and responsibilities fared better than those where leadership was less engaged,” the report states.
The Ontario Health Coalition, which praised the interim report’s recommendations, called on the government to implement them right away.
Also Friday, the province appointed nine people to its new COVID-19 vaccine panel, headed by retired chief of national defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier. Dr. Dirk Huyer, chief coroner of Ontario, is among members who will oversee distribution of vaccines when eventually available.
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