After a national shockwave hit Canada’s long-term care homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has finally released long-awaited plans to impose national standards for long-term care homes.
Long-Term Care Expert Forewarns COVID-19 Pandemic Disaster
In an exclusive interview with Top Class Actions in July, Mrs. Sholzberg-Gray, wife of the late Liberal MP Herb Gray, proposed that Canada should institute national standards to protect our elderly. This was long before Trudeau’s plans were released.
Order of Canada recipient for her central role in Canadian public policy and health care, Mrs. Sholzberg-Gray highlighted that regulation, or rather, the lack thereof, hinders any meaningful improvement to Canada’s long-term care homes. According to her, Ontario’s COVID-19 deaths in care facilities can be directly linked to the lack of regulated standards of care.
“The province cut long-term care inspections to only seven per year for the entire province to save money, and this contributed to COVID-19 outbreaks,” she noted in reference to Ontario’s excessively high long-term care COVID-19 infection rates. “It’s not a place to save money, because people die.” Enforcing provincial care standards is therefore essential to prevent future tragedies, and could have helped the province avoid the current devastation.
National Regulation Beyond Long-Term Care Homes
Aside from intending to establish national standards for long-term care, the federal government indicated that it remains committed to increasing the Old Age Security pension.
Additionally, the government conceded that women, particularly those with low incomes, have been the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore the federal government announced an Action Plan to help women return to the labour market and to ensure that the pandemic and subsequent recovery are managed from a feminist and intersectional perspective.
Prime Minister Trudeau has also taken this opportunity to reiterate certain election commitments, including planting two billion trees, banning single-use plastic and giving municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns.
Acknowledging that Canada’s long-term care homes are once again under threat with the onset of the second wave of COVID-19, Prime Minister Trudeau said he intends to discuss the issue this week at the weekly conference call of the country’s premiers.
“We should not see seniors who are better protected or worse protected in one part of the country than another. It’s up to all of us to work together to ensure quality care for all seniors and I will certainly discuss this with the provinces,” Trudeau announced Tuesday in a news conference.
According to the Prime Minister, Canadian long-term care homes unfortunately still face enormous challenges, despite all the efforts that were made in the spring to support the provinces.
Canadian Long-Term Care Homes Decimated by COVID-19 Outbreaks
Countless devastating media accounts have bombarded Canadians regarding COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes. Recently, the Ottawa Hospital has reportedly been ordered to take over two long-term care homes struggling with a second coronavirus outbreak.
In Quebec, the CHSLD Herron in Dorval was under investigation after 38 residents were dead in just 10 days from COVID-19 complications. At issue in the long-term care investigation was the fact that employees had deserted the long-term care home at the first detected COVID-19 case, leaving vulnerable elders abandoned to a grim fate.
The Quebec CHSLD Herron investigation report was recently released to the public, after numerous public outcries against long-term care abuse and neglect.
Outrage among Canadians following recent reports of Ontario long-term care coronavirus outbreaks, neglect and negligence also resulted in the establishment of an independent Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, to investigate how COVID-19 spread within long-term care homes, how residents, staff and families were impacted, and the adequacy of measures taken by the province and other parties to prevent, isolate and contain the virus.
COVID-19 Second Wave Hits Seniors
Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says the spread of COVID-19 is shifting towards seniors during the current second wave. She announced that there is mounting evidence suggesting that this wave could hit just as hard as the first.
In a statement released Saturday, Dr. Theresa Tam said that infection rates are now accelerating in older populations. Indeed, reports of coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities and retirement homes have been rising in recent weeks.
“We all have a shared responsibility to help protect those at highest risk,” Dr. Tam said in a statement. “When spread of COVID-19 is kept to low levels in the community this decreases the risk of exposure for older Canadians.”
What do you think about Prime Minister Trudeau’s proposed national long-term care standards? Do you know anyone who was affected by COVID-19 outbreaks in a Canadian long-term care home? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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