Ontario Health Coalition’s Cornwall chapter not happy with state of LTCs
Posted: October 5, 2021
(October 4, 2021)
By: Francis Racine, Gananoque Reporter
PHOTO BY FRANCIS RACINE /Francis Racine/Standard-Freeholder
This article was edited in order to correct the date on which the Ontario Health Coalition’s Cornwall chapter will be meeting at the Benson Centre.
The stretch of Second Street West between Augustus and York streets was loud on Monday afternoon and rightly so.
About 40 protesters, armed with colourful signs, made their voices heard in front of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell’s office. The event, organized by the Ontario Health Coalition’s Cornwall chapter, outlined four clear demands from the province’s government in relation to long-term care — the immediate improvement of staffing and care levels, the reinstating of annual surprise inspection, holding long-term care operators accountable and upholding the rights of residents.
The Ontario Health Coalition currently represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of local health coalitions and individual members.
“What we are seeing in long-term care homes right now is privatization running rampant, largely without any regulation or supervision,” said city councillor and Cornwall chapter president Elaine MacDonald. “Do you know that after all the tragedies in long-term care, there wasn’t a single long-term care facility that suffered any legal effects for the lack of care that they delivered.”
That, MacDonald argued, was due solely to Bill 218. The legislation, introduced last year, restricts any COVID-19 exposure-related claim against a long-term care home if the provider made what the provincial government calls an honest or good faith effort to act in accordance with public health guidelines.
“Even though by law they were to provide care, if they didn’t, there were no penalties,” said MacDonald.
She also called for the province to step up its inspections of long-term care homes — more precisely, Residence Quality Inspections (RQI). During these, administrators, nurses and other employees as well as the patients and their family members, are interviewed. The facility is additionally inspected from top to bottom.
Although most of the province’s 626 long-term care homes received an inspection in 2015, 2016 and 2017, that number dropped to nearly half in 2018, whereas in 2019, there were only nine inspections undertaken.
“Inspections aren’t being done anymore,” said MacDonald. “We’re calling for the inspection system to come back and we’re also requesting for the return of surprise inspections. We need to have that happen.”
Carol Leroux, a local long-term care staff member who was present at the protest, said she was there in order to denounce the many hurdles the sector’s employees have faced during the pandemic.
“We have been short-staffed and vacant positions aren’t being replaced,” she said. “We also don’t get enough time with residents.”
Also at protest was Cornwall & District Labour Council president Louise Lanctot.
“To me, the most shameful thing is that at the beginning of COVID-19, in the mission in Ottawa, they had the virus coming through and they couldn’t figure out how it was getting there,” she said. “PSWs were homeless because they couldn’t afford an apartment. They were going to work 11 to 12 hours a day in long-term care homes then they were going to the shelter to sleep. This is how we’re treating the people we call heroes.”
Although the Cornwall chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition has been dormant for some time, plans have been set in motion in order to resurrect it. The coalition’s first monthly meeting is set to take place on Oct. 26, at the Benson Centre, at 7 p.m.