The Ontario Health Coalition has sent an open letter to Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips, calling for more public consultations on the proposed 30-year licence extension for Orchard Villa LTC home in Pickering.
They say officials have neglected to consider the track record of the home’s operator, Southbridge Care Homes, in their decision-making process.
The letter also accuses Minister Phillips of attempting to “duck political accountability” by saying he does not have the final say on home licences.
The Ontario Health Coalition was among several groups who attended a protest outside Orchard Villa earlier this month.
They say Southbridge has not been held “accountable” for the high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the home, nor the serious concerns outlined in a scathing military report.
“The way [the Ministry of Long-Term Care] is conducting itself does not accord with the Long-Term Care Homes Act,” the letter reads. “We have become increasingly disturbed as we have witnessed the actions of the Ministry of Long-Term Care regarding this license.”
Another section of the letter claims that, at a public meeting, a ministry representative “tried to stop Ontarians from asking questions about the record of Southbridge and its ability to operate the home to acceptable standards.”
“To us, this creates a picture that the ‘fix is in’; that the criteria and the conduct of the Ministry appear to be designed to exclude what should be the absolute central issue, which is whether it is in the public interest to issue for-profit chain company Southbridge Care Homes a new 30-year license and expansion to operate Orchard Villa and whether the corporation can be entrusted with the care of 320 vulnerable residents given its terrible record not only in that home but across the province,” the letter continues.
“If Southbridge is able to not only get a new license but also an expansion at Orchard Villa where they were supposed to protect the vulnerable residents and care for them and where more than 70 residents died of COVID and others died of dehydration, malnutrition and horrific neglect, what kind of record would be bad enough for a corporation to be denied a license in Ontario?” it concludes.