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Unions and advocacy groups call for inquiry into long-term care

Posted: March 26, 2021

(March 25, 2021)

By: Nick Seebruch, Seaway News

ONTARIO – A coalition of unions and advocacy groups are calling for an inquiry into Ontario’s long-term care sector, and the treatment of long-term care residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on Ontario health care’s systemic ageism in the treatment of the elderly. Four bed ward rooms, understaffing, lack of PPE, failure to hospitalize residents. But the policy choices that got us here are decades-old and must stop,” says Jane Meadus with ACE.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE) state that the 4,000 deaths of residents in long-term care facilities in Ontario is just one reason why they are calling for a public inquiry.

Locally, of the 69 reported COVID-19 deaths in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) region as of Thursday, March 25, 60 were residents of long-term care facilities.

There have been 88 facility outbreaks of COVID-19 through the course of the pandemic, with the majority of those occurring in long-term care facilities as well. As of March 25, there are eight active COVID-19 outbreaks in the EOHU region.

Another issue that the coalition wants addressed in the public inquiry is the matter of capacity in long-term care facilities and the local hospital.

According to data provided by the coalition, while an average of 191 long-term care beds become available each month in the region, the wait time for a bed can be as long as 1,836 days, which is five years.

“The culture of hospital diversion for long-term care residents carried through the first wave and second wave. The older the resident, the lower the rate of hospitalization,” says the OHC’s Natalie Mehra.

The group also cites capacity issues at the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH), which they state was over capacity by 112 per cent in October of 2020.

The coalition has submitted their request for a public inquiry to the Ontario Human Rights Commission which will determine whether or not they will take up the case.

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