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‘Systemic ageism’ impacting COVID-19 care in southwestern Ontario: Advocacy groups

Posted: March 25, 2021

(March 24, 2021)

By: Sean Irvine, CTV News

LONDON, ONT. — Southwestern Ontario residents are being encouraged to back a call for a human rights inquiry into ageism as it relates to COVID-19.

Multiple groups say chronic provincial government cuts to hospital beds, and a lengthy waiting list to access long-term care (LTC), has led to discrimination, especially during the current pandemic.

Two advocacy groups, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE) are joined by hospital workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in the declaration.

The groups say “systemic ageism” in Ontario’s health system must be investigated.

In a news conference, specific to the region, Natalie Mehra of Ontario Health Coalition listed LTC waiting lists in the City of London along with Middlesex and Elgin counties.

Mehra says nearly 2,000 people are waiting to access the 111 LTC beds that become available each month.

The three groups link the numbers to the care given to elderly residents who developed – and later died – of COVID-19.

Mehra stated one in five LTC residents, who died of COVID-19, were in a hospital at the time of their passing.

But she says that number jumps to four in five among community members.

It is one example of ageism, which Mehra contends, “can no longer be ignored.”

The groups further demand an Ontario Human Rights Commission inquiry into the issue is overdue.

“There’s also a systematic ageism, in our healthcare system, that treats the elderly as though their lives or not as meaningful, and as though their right to care is lesser than other people. And it must be challenges particularly in the face of the horrors that we’ve seen in the last year,” concluded Mehra.

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