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LTC families upset over liability bill: OHC

Posted: October 22, 2020

(October 21, 2020)

By: Antonella Artuso, Brantford Expositor

With Ontario seeing 783 COVID-19 cases Thursday, Premier Doug Ford encouraged residents to use the COVID-Alert app to help arm the province and users with better tracking measures. POSTMEDIA

Reckless nursing homes can still be held legally accountable for COVID-19 infections, Premier Doug Ford insists.

“They can continue to sue them,” Ford said Wednesday. “This does not protect them 100% by any means.”

His government introduced the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act Tuesday which would provide wide protection from COVID-19 transmission lawsuits provided there was a “good faith” effort to follow public health advice and guidelines.

Opponents to the bill say the government has made it much harder to take bad players in the long-term care sector to court.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Ford has repeatedly said he will hold those responsible accountable for the crisis in long-term care homes.

“Over the last year, seniors in long-term care and the families that love them have been forced to endure horror after horror inside a broken long-term care system largely controlled by for-profit corporations,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said. “(On Tuesday, Ford) actually exempted these for-profit chains from legal liability and also exempted himself.”

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), said people are really upset about the proposed legislation.

“First they watched their loved ones die and now they’re afraid they will never get any justice,” she said. “The long-term care providers lobbied for it and they got it … I’m angry.”

Attorney General Doug Downey countered the bill is designed to protect volunteers and small businesses that would be vulnerable to lawsuits.

The bill raises the bar from “reasonableness” to “good faith,” a higher threshold to reach when seeking to sue individuals and businesses.

Ford said the bill is aimed at protecting people like a convenience store owner accused by a customer of spreading COVID-19.

Under the bill, if the business sought out the best public health advice and took steps to mitigate any risk of transmission, it would not be the successful target of a lawsuit.

— With files by Sue-Ann Levy

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