HAMILTON — Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission is being forced by the Doug Ford government to shut down its work prematurely, in the middle of the second wave. Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on Ford to reverse that decision, and to appear before the commission himself.
The deadline for making a submission to the commission closed Jan. 31 and the commission is working towards an April 30 deadline for its final report, after the Ford government refused to grant it an extension to Dec. 31. Horwath will introduce a motion in the legislature to extend its deadline to the end of the year.
“It’s appalling that Doug Ford and Merrilee Fullerton are ready to shut down the work of Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission,” said Horwath. “Hundreds of seniors are sick. Hundreds of homes are in outbreak, causing anguish and terror among seniors and their families. More contagious variants of COVID-19 are knocking at the door of long-term care homes. And Doug Ford’s slow and sloppy vaccine roll-out means some seniors in long-term care still waiting for their first shot.
“Not only should the commission continue to do its work examining what is going wrong in long-term care right now — the buck for all this stops with Doug Ford, and he needs to go explain his choice not to invest in more protections for seniors. How dare he dodge the committee and give himself a free pass.”
Information obtained by CTV Toronto points to Ministers Merrilee Fullerton and Christine Elliott appearing before the commission in coming days, but Ford may be getting off the hook. The commission also revealed problems getting information and documents it requests from the government.
“By dodging and stonewalling the commission, Doug Ford is confirming everyone’s worst fears about why he chose a limited and government-controlled long-term care review to take place behind closed doors,” said Horwath. “He wants to keep the curtain drawn on what’s happening to our parents and grandparents.”
The NDP had joined families in advocating for an independent, judicial public inquiry into the devastation in long-term care rather than a premier’s commission — which would have prevented Ford from interfering in or ending their work.
As of Feb. 1, 230 of Ontario’s long-term care homes were in outbreak.