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North Bay resident shares tragic story of grandmother’s death

Posted: December 4, 2021

(December 3, 2021)

By: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles, North Bay Nugget

Henri Giroux, a member of the North Bay Health Coalition talks to local media about private versus public long-term care homes Friday. The Ontario Health Coalition recently released a report titled “Public Money Private Profit:The Ford Government & Privatization of the Next Generation of Ontario’s Long-Term Care.”

Henri Giroux, a member of the North Bay Health Coalition talks to local media about private versus public long-term care homes Friday. The Ontario Health Coalition recently released a report titled “Public Money Private Profit:The Ford Government & Privatization of the Next Generation of Ontario’s Long-Term Care.” PHOTO BY JENNIFER HAMILTON-MCCHARLES, THE NUGGET

Jason MacLennan would rather be pushed in front of a bus than go into a for-profit long-term care home.

The North Bay resident said his grandmother’s death has left him scarred and determined to keep for-profit long-term care homes from receiving additional beds.

“Had we known what we know now there’s no way we would have put our grandmother into a (for-profit) long-term care home. We would have figured something out. We would have done what we could to keep her in her own home.”

MacLennan said his grandmother died due to a urinary tract infection that went septic. She also suffered from dehydration.

From the time she arrived at hospital, all they could do was provide her with pain control medication, MacLennan said Friday at a news conference organized by the Ontario Health Coalition.

The coalition released a new report “Public Money Private Profit: The Ford Government & Privatization of the Next Generation of Ontario’s Long-Term Care.”

“We complained to administration and the ministry, but received no response. We’ve talked to lawyers, but at the end of the day how do you hold a long-term home accountable? There’s not a lot of value on a senior’s life. There’s no accountability,” MacLennan said.

MacLennan said the issue of for-profit long-term care homes has been talked “to death.

“It’s now time to fix the problem permanently.”

The Ontario Health Coalition says it is making this an election issue.

The report points out the Doug Ford government is midway through allocating 30,436 beds and 30-year licenses. The majority of these (16,304 beds) are in the process of being allocated to for-profit companies. Of those, 12,084, or three quarters, have gone to 10 large chain companies with what the coalition calls terrible pandemic records.

The Ford government is also in the process of giving a minority of the beds to non-profits (10,990) and publicly owned municipal homes (2,918).

The health coalition has launched a province-wide virtual tour to issue a call to action for Ontario to stop the for-profit privatization of Ontario’s long-term care.

Henri Giroux, a North Bay health coalition member, held a news conference alongside members of the Ontario Health Coalition and the Sudbury Health Coalition Friday to discuss the local situation.

“It’s not too late,” he stressed. “The Ford government still has the chance to do the right thing, but we have to fight to make sure this government does the right thing. These for-profit homes have no place in our health-care system.”

Giroux, who worked in long-term care for almost 40 years, said people aren’t in a nursing home because they want to be. They’re there because they don’t want to be a burden to their families.

He said he remembers seeing seniors walk into long-term care with their suitcase and a smile.

“That’s no longer the case,” he says “These aren’t homes for the aged. They’re warehouses they put them in.”

The Ontario Health Coalition says over the past year, the Ford government has been awarding tens of thousands of long-term care beds to for-profit operators, among them those with the most horrific records during the pandemic.

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, said Ontario is at a critical juncture. “We have about 31,000 beds that are old and outdated in our long-term care homes. Their licenses end in 2025. They don’t meet building standards that were set 20 years ago. They have to be entirely rebuilt,” she said.

“We were promised significant change and instead, we’re getting another 30 years, unless we stop it, of for-profit licenses paid for by public money.”

Al Dupuis, a member of the Ontario Health Coalition, said it’s disturbing to hear that the majority of the 30,000 new long-term care beds are going for-profit homes – the same homes that have egregious records during the pandemic.

He said this move “betrays all logic and good sense.”

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