QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls), NDP Critic for Long-Term Care, questioned new LTC Minister Stan Cho, on Monday about the Ford government’s record on long-term care. Cho was recently named Minister, the fourth in five years under the Ford government.
“It’s unfortunate that this file has been passed around to four different Ministers in the last few years – especially since nearly 6,000 of our moms and dads, our grandparents, and loved ones died in long-term care during the pandemic,” said Gates. “Maybe if the Conservative government took the file seriously, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Gates asked the new Minister to acknowledge whether the Ford government made mistakes in long-term care that led to the deaths of LTC residents – a question the Minister refused to answer.
“We can’t go back in time and change the past,” Gates said. “But we sure can learn from it. Make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again.”
Gates’ questioning comes on the heels of a scathing report released by the Ontario Ombudsman into the long-term care Inspection system in the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report concluded, among other findings, that no inspections were conducted by the Ministry in the first seven weeks of the pandemic.
“The report found the government failed to protect seniors, their families, and workers,” said Gates. “The government had no plans for how inspections were to be conducted during the pandemic – and in fact, the government cut inspections before the pandemic. Inspectors were not provided with basic PPE or training.”
Gates also questioned the Minister on the government’s use of legislation to protect LTC homes from accountability, and the Ford government’s attack on LTC workers with legislation like Bill 124.
“If you cared about staffing, you wouldn’t have brought in Bill 124 to attack workers right across the Province of Ontario.”
The Ombudsman's report can be found here: Lessons for the Long Term