Toronto's Eatonville Care Centre is one of five mentioned in a scathing report by the Canadian military about conditions at Ontario long-term care homes. (Chris Mulligan/CBC)

Ontario ombudsman will investigate oversight at long-term care homes

Ontario’s ombudsman has joined the quest to try to figure out who and what led to the tragic debacle that has cost hundreds of lives at long-term care facilities in Canada’s largest and richest province.

According to Ontario’s Ministry of Long-Term Care, 1,648 residents and seven staff members have died amid 306 COVID-19 outbreaks in the facilities since January.

On Monday, less than a week after the Canadian military released a scathing report about conditions in five Ontario long-term care homes, Paul Dubé said in a written statement that he is launching an investigation into oversight of long-term care homes across the province.

The investigation will focus — among other things — on staffing levels, visitor restrictions, inspections, infection prevention and control procedures and communication of information. 

Doug Ford, who announced last week that his government was taking over management of the five homes cited by the military, said Dubé’s decision was fine by him.

At a Monday news conference, Ford said he welcomed an investigation from the ombudsman, adding that he would welcome probes from the auditor general, the coroner’s office and “possibly police.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he welcomes probes into long-term care homes. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“We’re going to fix this problem as sure as I’m standing here,” he said.

“I need answers. I want answers.” 

Critics say Ford, who came to power in June 2018 promising to cut government spending, doesn’t always practice what he preaches.

Those cuts he promised, his critics say, included money for long-term care homes.

A CBC News investigation published in April found that only nine of Ontario’s 626 nursing homes received full-scale inspections last year–well down from previous years.

The investigation was published as Ford pledged to “deploy every resource” to long-term care facilities.

Last month, the Ontario government announced plans to launch an independent commission to examine the province’s long-term care homes. 

It is scheduled to begin work in September.

The military has been deployed to nursing homes in Ontario and Quebec to reinforce workers overwhelmed by dealing with residents suffering from the COVID-19 virus. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The military’s report, made public last Tuesday, included a list of allegations that the military said may have contributed to large outbreaks of COVID-19 experienced at each of the five homes.

They included repeated use of medical equipment on multiple COVID-19 patients, bug infestations — such as cockroaches and ants in the facilities — force-feeding leading to “audible choking,” and reports of patients who were heard “crying for help with staff not responding” for up to two hours.

According to Dubé’s news release, investigators will examine whether the oversight by the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Health is “adequate to ensure the safety of residents and staff.”  

A memorial is seen outside the Camilla Care Community long-term care facility in Mississauga. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

In his statement, Dubé said he was invoking his authority to investigate the issue “in light of the grave concerns” raised in the report, which he called “shocking.” 

“The Canadian Armed Forces report painted a stunning portrait of the situation in long-term care during this crisis,” Dube said in the release.

“Our investigation will look at the systemic issues that led to it, and will make constructive recommendations for corrective action.”

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press, RCI

Categories: Health, Politics, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

For reasons beyond our control, and for an undetermined period of time, our comment section is now closed. However, our social networks remain open to your contributions.