QUEEN’S PARK — Having three or four long-term care residents in a room is a dangerous cause of COVID-19 spread — and the Ford government knows it’s happening all over the province, and isn’t taking action to stop it. With a second wave upon the province, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to release a plan, funding, and a timeline for moving residents into safer, one- and two-resident rooms.
“In order to save money, the Ford government didn’t prepare long-term care homes for the second wave,” said Horwath. “That includes leaving people in four-bed wards, where the virus easily spreads from person to person. If I were premier, I would have started investing in solutions and protections months ago. Instead, nursing homes are now lurching into another crisis without enough infection control in place.”
As of Thursday, there were 65 nursing homes battling an outbreak. On Oct. 6 in a legislative committee meeting, Minister Merrilee Fullerton and her staff acknowledged that the multi-bed wards were still in place, but said they’re “monitoring” the situation and have not set a date by which all residents need to be safe and protected.
According to reporting by QP Briefing, the owner of one for-profit care home chain, Schlegel Villages, said the province has banned moving newly-admitted residents into multi-bed rooms, but allows residents already living in multi-bed rooms to stay there.
“So far, 1,900 people have died of COVID-19 in long-term care in Ontario,” said Horwath. “We need to take action to protect folks this time with more PPE, thousands more staff, better infection control, testing, and a plan to quarantine sick residents.”
Last week, Horwath released her commitment to overhaul the home care and long-term care system, starting in 2022. The NDP plan includes building 50,000 spaces under a new model with smaller homes that feel like home, and banning all for-profit corporations within eight years — making a record investment to build a system that helps maintain the quality of life for aging Ontarians, instead of taking it away.