In an open letter, 1,080 physicians, researchers and advocates came together as a movement called “Doctors for Justice in LTC”, to call upon the Ontario government to immediately end the violations of people’s human rights in long-term care homes (LTC).
According to the letter, the government has not changed its approach towards LTC home residents since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. The Globe and Mail reported 80% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities.
The letter highlights that Canada has had the highest proportion of LTC deaths compared to other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. In Ontario, this negligence resulted in almost 2,000 deaths.
The letter raised concerns surrounding the second wave, and said:
- Poor infection control practices. The Ontario government still allows healthcare workers to work at multiple LTC homes. This goes against infection control practices.
- Delayed responses to outbreaks in homes. Medical care has not been improved. No consistency or proactive involvement in hospitals or community-based response teams.
- Lack of transparency. Family members or the public are unaware about staffing levels and infection control standards in a LTC home unless revealed by a whistleblowing family caregiver or an anonymous frontline worker. The facts provided differ from home administration and the provincial government.
- A worsening staffing shortage during the second wave. Reports show the province has 30% fewer personal support workers compared to the first wave. 65% of frontline workers in homes with COVID-19 outbreaks reported not having enough staff.
- Delays in improving staffing levels. The Ontario government announced that they plan to improve staffing levels within 4-5 years with little details on funding.
Recent data of confirmed cases. (Photo: Courtesy of Ontario government website).
The Canada Health Act, requires all provinces to ensure that eligible individuals do not have to pay directly for “medically necessary” physician and hospital services.
Global News reported, by January 5, fewer than 1,000 of the province’s 72,000 long-term care residents received a dose of the government authorized Pfizer vaccine.
CTV asked Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, professor at Ontario Tech University and LTC advocate, about the reason for high LTC COVID-19 numbers. She said: “Because our government failed to implement the recommendations of experts and their long term care commissioners to effectively safeguard the sector ahead of the second wave.”
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