Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 27, 2020
Military report reveals what sector has long known: Ontario’s nursing homes are in trouble
Jacqueline Mitchell hasn’t been able to hug her 94-old-mother since March, and now, in the face of a shocking Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report into the state of five Ontario long-term care homes, she is aghast.
Mitchell’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease and has been a resident at Etobicoke, Ont.’s Eatonville Care Centre since 2017. That’s one of the homes listed in the report, which details disturbing observations made by military members who were called in to help after some of the province’s long-term care facilities were overrun by COVID-19 outbreaks.
The CAF report outlines instances in which members spotted equipment used on both infected and non-infected patients without being disinfected, as well as rotten food, cockroach infestations and a startling disregard for basic cleanliness.
“It is scandalous. It is shameful. It is shocking,” Mitchell said. “Our senior generation is living in that, and that is a national atrocity.”
There are many signs the provincial government knew, or should have known, what’s happening inside these homes, but it took military intervention to bring the details to light.
For weeks, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been saying the province’s long-term care system is “broken.” And on Tuesday he said that he saw firsthand the limitations of the system when his brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was in palliative care before his death in 2016.
That, to Mitchell, signalled an acknowledgement on the premier’s part that something was very wrong with the system.
“That should have alerted him on a personal basis to what was happening in these homes.… He should not be surprised,” she said.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the government’s response, and called for the resignation of Minister of Long-Term Care Merrillee Fullerton.
“It’s shocking that the Canadian Armed Forces needed to lift the veil when Doug Ford and Merrilee Fullerton ought to have known about these horrific conditions, and did nothing to take the homes over,” Horwath said. “The premier cannot pass the buck, finger-point and express outrage about what his own government is doing on his watch.” (CBC)