Greens call for national inquiry into long-term care facilities

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is urging the federal government to open a national inquiry into the horrific tragedy that has unfolded in Canadian long-term care homes, during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The terrible toll this pandemic has taken on residents of long-term care facilities could have been reduced had the right protocols and oversight been in place,” said Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith). 

“I have spoken on the issue of substandard care in privately-owned and operated long-term care facilities multiple times in the House of Commons. In July of last year, I flagged concerns around foreign ownership of these facilities in a letter to Ministers Navdeep Bains and Ralph Goodale. In January this year I spoke about the need for major changes in how seniors’ care residences are operated, and in early March I addressed the issue again, stating that we had failed to protect seniors. Sadly, we have now witnessed the terrible consequences of our inaction.

“While the COVID-19 crisis has brought much needed attention to what has been happening in long-term care institutions, it's tragic that more lives had to be lost under deplorable conditions in order for that to happen,” said Manly. “In light of this, the Green caucus calls on the federal government to initiate a national inquiry into long-term care homes to ensure that Canadian seniors are properly protected. Given that these facilities fall under provincial jurisdiction, a national inquiry would be an opportune moment to initiate federal oversight through a regulatory body.”  

The National Institute on Aging stated May 6 that 3,436 residents and six staff members of long-term care facilities had died of COVID-19, representing 82 per cent of Canada’s 4,167 deaths reported as of that date. According to Dr. Samir Sinha, research director at the NIA,

Canada has the highest proportion of deaths from COVID-19 in long term-care settings among 14 countries being tracked in a study by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network. A May 8 investigation by the Toronto Star revealed that four times as many deaths occurred in the for-profit long-term care facilities, than in the non-profit facilities.

“This is a tragic wake up call for Canadians and we must do everything possible to ensure this can never happen again,”said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “The other issue here that must be addressed going forward is the part-time hours and inadequate wages paid to long-term care workers, forcing many caregivers to work two jobs to make ends meet. These are essential workers, many of whom are women, some new immigrants, all risking their lives to care for elders, who built the society we now enjoy.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview: 

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary