OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Prime Minister to convene a meeting of First Ministers to agree on an urgent action plan to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in long-term care (LTC) facilities across Canada.
“A humanitarian crisis is an event that is a critical threat to the health, safety, security or wellbeing of a large group of people,” said Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada. “That is exactly what we have in our LTC facilities right now: a critical threat to the health and safety of long-term care residents.
“More than 80 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care. Thousands have died, and Canada ranks second in the world for the proportion of COVID-19 deaths in LTC. Since the start of the second wave, many hundreds more have died, and continue to die, and long-term care facilities in several provinces are experiencing record COVID-19 outbreaks among residents and staff. This crisis has particularly impacted women, those living in LTC and the low-income racialized women who staff LTC facilities.”
At Monday’s Green Party of Canada emergency town hall, Ms. Paul and MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) were joined by leading long-term care experts and advocates who said that many of these deaths were avoidable. Dr. Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario called it a senicide.
The expert panel included Dr. Gloria M. Gutman, Professor/Director Emerita, Dept. of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University; Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, Professor, Ontario Tech University; Dr. Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario; Moira Welsh, investigative reporter and Author of Happily Ever Older: Revolutionary Approaches to Long-Term-Care; Laura Tamblyn Watts, President and CEO of CanAge and Fellow of the Institute for Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto; and Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals
The experts emphasised that the solutions to dramatically reducing COVID-19 deaths in LTC are clear, available, and implementable and would have an immediate positive effect. Tangible actions include:
- Accelerating the speed of vaccination in LTC facilities
- Increasing testing in LTC facilities
- Increasing and stabilising staffing in LTC homes and improving training and pay for workers
- Setting a national standard of four hours of regulated care per day of care for each LTC resident
- Greater separation of residents within LTC to prevent spread of infection
- Ensuring safe family access to LTC facilities
- More stringent accountability and penalties for LTC facility operators
“I echo the members of the expert panel who said that we have the solutions, but what is missing is the political will,” said Ms. Paul. “Our First Ministers cannot continue to look away as this preventable national tragedy unfolds before their eyes. Now is the time for them to agree on how to rapidly implement the solutions so that we can end the carnage of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care. There should not be one more death caused by inaction and lack of political leadership.”
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