Government Commits to Improving System Following COVID-19 Outbreak
News from the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care, with an Afterword from Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper
Posted May 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
TORONTO — This Tuesday, May 19th Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued the following statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes:
“Our government has been clear that we will review the long-term care system to get a better understanding of the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Today (this May 19th), I am announcing that we will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September.
Over the next several months, our government will be finalizing details of the commission including terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines.
We have been clear the long-term care system in Ontario is broken. We must act quickly and decisively, and that is why an independent non-partisan commission is the best way to conduct a thorough and expedited review.
As we all take steps to contain this pandemic, the Commission will get down to work and provide us with guidance on how to improve the long-term care system and better protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks.
Since day one of COVID-19, our top priority has been to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. That includes the most vulnerable members of our society like residents in long-term care.
Our government offers our condolences to the families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 while residing in a long-term care home.
Ontarians need and deserve answers, and let me assure you, they will get them.”
An Afterword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
Certainly, many will greet this news – coming in the wake of almost 1,400 deaths to date in Ontario of long-term care home residents and five care workers dead since the COVID-19 outbreak began – with words like “finally,” “it’s about time,” and “why wasn’t this announced sooner?”
All of those responses certainly make sense and some thanks certainly goes to unions and other organizations representing front-line workers in these homes, and to members of the opposition NDP, Green Party and Liberal Party in Ontario for continuing to press the Ford government to launch such a review.
Yet, at the risk of putting a bit of damper on all this news, this veteran journalist has been around enough times to see these commissions or public inquiries turn into very lengthy feeding frenzies for consultants and lawyers – all of the often considerable cost covered by the tax-paying public of course.
Far be it to see the private operators and owners of many of Ontario’s long-term care homes, who have made hundreds of millions over the years, carrying the cost of this. They sure do know how to lobby for less regulation and oversight though.
Surely there are many people inside government, and inside the long-term care home industry, including employees, who already know what measures need to be taken to make life healther and safer for senior populations living in them.
Let us hope that this commission, like too many others in the past, does not turn into a very costly delay tactic for taking necessary action.
It is discouraging enough that this commission isn’t even starting its work until September.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
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