More than 3,900 Senior Residents and 11 Long-Term Care Workers Die from COVID-19 under Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton
Fullerton Chooses to Blame Previous Provincial Governments for Lack of COVID-19 Protection for LTC Residents, Following Release of Scathing Commission Report on Illness and Death in Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes
Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Is Calling for Fullerton’s Resignation
A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a Statement from Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath
Posted May 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large
“We were overdue for a pandemic,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s long-term care minister Merrilee Fullerton during a 20-minute news conference this May 3rd, and “I’m one person.”
Poor, poor pitiful Merilee Fullerton.
How can she cope? She’s just one person. And while we are discussing her limitations, let’s not leave incompetent and morally bankrupt out.
This verbal vomit from yet another one of Doug Ford’s boot-licking cabinet ministers followed in the wake of what could hardly be a more damning report, released late this past Friday, April 30th by an independent Ontario Commission on Long-Term Care during the COVID-19 crisis that was in session for about a year and heard from literally hundreds of loved ones of residents in these homes, front-line staff in the homes and others.
Among other things this report, which we will provide a link to at the bottom of this post), concluded that long-term care homes across Ontario were left woefully unprepared for this pandemic due to budget and regulation cuts that stem back through a number of governments, including the former Mike Harris Conservatives, and Dalton Mutiny/Kathleen Wynne for many years.
Yet for Fullerton to have the nerve to stand there at a news conference today and place virtually all of the blame on former governments and other factors, when it was under her watch and the watch of her boss, Premier Doug Ford, that even more cuts were made to staffing at these homes, and regulations for them were further weakened, and unannounced government inspections of homes were terminated, is bloody disgusting.
Under this disgraceful long-term care ministers’ watch, the Ford government even went so far last year, during early waves of this pandemic, as to pass legislation granting blanket legal immunity the operators of these homes, in the event family members of LTC (long-term care) residents decided to sue the operators for alleged lack of care or negligence.
This move sent out a clear message that the Ford government is more interested in protecting its friends, including former premier Mike Harris (now a board chair for a large LTC chain operation) in the privately-run, for-profit LTC industry than it is in protecting vulnerable residents.
And who are these residents?
Most of them are seniors, like our parents and grandparents in their final years – people who helped build the communities we live and work in today.
Fullerton, Ford and the rest their rancid Conservative Party caucus in Ontario ought to be ashamed, and yet I have come to the conclusion that on this issue, and so many others, they are incapable of feeling shame.
After Fullerton’s news conference ended this May 3rd, CBC reporter Mike Crawley, who covered it, fired out the following message on Twitter – “I asked Mr. Fullerton if she or her government is going to apologize for what happened in long-term care. In her 3 minute-plus response to that direct and specific question, she did not apologize.”
In the spring of 2022 we have the next provincial election in Ontario, and we have to get rid of this God-awful Ford Conservative government.
Now here is a news release that the Ontario NDP Official Opposition Party, followed by some related links, including one for the Commission’s report –
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for Dr. Merrilee Fullerton to be removed as Long-Term Care Minister.
QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for Dr. Merrilee Fullerton to be removed as Long-Term Care Minister in the wake of the final report of the Long-Term Care Commission. That report echoes the disturbing, inhumane conditions revealed by reports by the Canadian Armed Forces and Ontario’s Auditor General.
Horwath released the following statement:
“According to the Long-Term Care Commission’s final report, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Doug Ford’s Minister of Long-Term Care, knew that seniors in nursing homes were being put at risk of COVID-19, and that thousands would likely die. She knew the Ford government was refusing to take steps or make investments to spare them. And she knew that residents were dying not only of COVID-19, but of dehydration and neglect — all of them alone and in pain.
But she did nothing. She let people die, rather than speak out or take action. Fullerton must resign from her post as Long-Term Care Minister today, or be fired by Mr. Ford.
While Mike Harris, Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne, and Steven Del Duca all bear responsibility for privatizing, cutting, underfunding and neglecting long-term care, it was Ford and Fullerton who made the devastating choices to cancel comprehensive inspections, deny staff paid sick days, leave facilities brutally understaffed, skip infection prevention and control, and act slowly, if at all, while the virus was ravaging nursing homes.
Ford and Fullerton were focused on their friends that profit off long-term care — acting to protect those friends from legal liability, instead of protecting seniors. Fullerton, Ford and the corporations that put profits ahead of lives must all be held to account.”
To read the full Commission report on Ontario’s Long-Term Care home crisis, click on – http://www.ltccommission-commissionsld.ca/report/pdf/Ontarios_Long-Term_Care_COVID-19_Commission_Final_Report.pdf .
To read a CBC report on the May 3rd Fullerton press conference, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/merrilee-fullerton-long-term-care-commission-response-1.6011478
To read a commentary Niagara At Large posted shortly after the Commission’s report was released, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2021/05/01/long-term-care-commission-report-is-damming-for-ford-government/
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