“To the families who are directly impacted: we feel your heartbreak and your anger. We promise to continue to do everything we can do to improve care, protect those who rely on our health care system for their care, and finally achieve some accountability and justice for all that has happened” – Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition
A Message from the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide citizens group advocating for quality public health care
Posted November 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Dear all members and supporters,
The Ontario Legislature just voted on Bill 218, the law that indemnifies for-profit long-term care homes among other for liability for their negligence in the pandemic. The Ford government MPPs voted for Bill 218 and the NDP and Liberals voted against it. The Bill passed.
One of the Opposition Parties requested a recorded vote: the result was 52 ayes and 38 nays.
The NDP had brought an amendment earlier in the Standing Committee to carve out long-term care and retirement homes that the Conservative MPPs used their majority to vote down.
The message to the long-term care industry is that they will not be held legally liable for negligence and that they are not required even to act with the normal requirement which, prior to this law, would have required a reasonable and competent effort to protect residents from harm from COVID-19.
It is reprehensible that the Ford government has passed this legislation.
The lawsuits will go ahead. The lawyers I have heard from are refilling their claims as “gross negligence”. It will be a steeper hill to climb but they intend to try to climb it on behalf of their clients who are the families who have lost loved ones.
We will pursue our complaint to the Integrity Commissioner. It is our position that the government MPPs, including a number of government Ministers, Premier and other MPPs who brought this bill forward and voted for it, have received donations and have close ties with the for-profit long-term care industry, and that these should be investigated for conflict-of-interest and those MPPs should have recused themselves from the vote.
I also want to add a note for those who are not aware. The Ford government has changed the rules of the Legislature to limit debate to just a few hours. It would have been impossible to pass this Bill so quickly before they did that. They also limited the public hearings to just one part-day, cutting out more than four dozen people, including family members of the deceased, from even being heard.
The hearings were not televised, which I have never seen before, and the media could not watch them. These decisions are profoundly undemocratic, not to mention callous.
To the families who are directly impacted: we feel your heartbreak and your anger. We promise to continue to do everything we can do to improve care, protect those who rely on our health care system for their care, and finally achieve some accountability and justice for all that has happened.
I am sorry to report such bad news. We will keep you apprised as we figure out next steps.
Please stay safe,
Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition
About the Ontario Health Coalition – The Ontario Health Coalition is comprised of a Board of Directors, committees of the Board as approved in the Coalition’s annual Action Plan, Local Coalitions, member organizations and individual members. Currently the Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of Local Health Coalitions and individual members. Our members include: seniors’ groups; patients’ organizations; unions; nurses and health professionals’ organizations; physicians and physician organizations that support the public health system; non-profit community agencies; student groups; ethnic and cultural organizations; residents’ and family councils; retirees; poverty and equality-seeking groups; women’s organizations, and others.
For more information on the Ontario Health Coalition and its advocacy work, click on – www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca
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