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‘There is just so much wrong’: Penetanguishene residents upset with state of long-term-care homes in Ontario

Posted: August 26, 2021

(August 25, 2021)

By: Andrew Mendler, Midland Mirror Reporter

Don Copping and Fran Moreau are frustrated over the province’s handling of long-term-care homes and say the system needs to change.

The two Penetanguishene residents will be heading down to Queen’s Park on Sept. 13 to join a protest of Ontario’s long-term-care homes organized by the Ontario Health Coalition.

“There is just so much wrong with how (the system) is being administered,” said Copping.

“It is so hard to understand (the situation) and be unable to do anything about it. But if we don’t try, there is no possibility it will get better.”

Moreau, a former nurse who helped out at a variety of nursing homes in the 1960s and ’70s, said a lot of the issues that plagued the system back then are still present today. Facilities are understaffed and residents aren’t receiving proper care.

“It has never been a good setting, for years and years and years,” said Moreau.

The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in long-term-care homes appears to have been the final straw for many Ontarians, including those working for the Ontario Health Coalition.

“Despite all of the public attention and despite everything that’s happened — the 4,000 deaths, many of them preventable — nothing has happened to improve care,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

As of Aug. 18, a total of 15,413 cases of COVID-19 and 3,975 deaths were attributed to residents in provincial long-term-care facilities.

“The goal is to put long-term care squarely back in the centre of the public agenda,” said Mehra. “We are just not letting it go this time.”

The government is currently considering 30-year licence renewals for long-term-care facilities across the province, many of which had significant COVID-19 outbreaks and were the subject of a scathing report in 2020.

This does not sit well with Copping, Moreau and Mehra — who expected to see some changes following the pandemic.

“The government has the power to fine homes that are routinely non-compliant. They have the power to suspend and revoke licences,” said Mehra. ”Not one home has been fined. Nothing has happened. No one has lost their licences. There has been no accountability.”

Copping and Moreau are organizing a bus, which will take locals down to the protest, to be part of the fight to increase enforcement standards in long-term-care facilities through annual surprise inspections, fines, and revocation of licence for non-compliance.

Protesters will also be pushing for the immediate improvement of care levels to four hours of care per resident, per day, according to Mehra.

“Staffing levels are really, honestly, the worst I have ever seen,” said Mehra.

“I think regular Ontarians, if they knew that nothing had happened to improve care, despite all the promises and crocodile tears … they would be horrified.”

Those interested in joining the protest can contact Copping at 705-549-0366 or Moreau at 705-355-7611 to secure a spot.

For more information on the event, visit ontariohealthcoalition.ca.

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