Horwath says survivors and families deserve an apology for the claims of an “iron ring”
PICKERING — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for March 30 to be declared an annual, provincial day of mourning for lives lost to COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes.
March 30 marks the anniversary of Premier Doug Ford’s claim of an iron ring around seniors in long-term care. Following that claim, nearly 4,000 seniors died of COVID-19, and thousands more suffered illness and neglect as a result of the conditions inside nursing homes. Horwath said the survivors, and families of residents, are owed a formal apology by the province, as well.
“The premier made a promise of an ‘iron ring’ of protection from COVID-19. That never materialized,” said Horwath. “There was no iron ring. At times, staffing levels were abysmal, PPE wasn’t in place to protect seniors or front-line workers, and even basic infection prevention and control wasn’t happening. Beloved family members were not safe.
“Nearly 4,000 seniors died, alone and in pain, their families unable to be at their side. Thousands more suffered — from COVID itself, or from the parallel crisis of neglect that was playing out in understaffed, under-resourced long-term care facilities.”
Horwath issued the call for a provincial day of mourning and official apology on Friday in Pickering, alongside bereaved families who lost their loved ones at Orchard Villa during the pandemic. Her motion will be debated and voted on Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
“Let’s mourn and remember those we’ve lost. Let’s grieve this immense tragedy together. And let’s have a formal apology, backed up by action,” said Horwath. “We need to change long-term care — to give survivors a better life now, and ensure the atrocities we witnessed during the pandemic can never happen again.”
Darlene Thomas, whose grandmother Margaret passed away at Orchard Villa after contracting COVID-19
"Grandma loved us being there with her everyday. She loved being surrounded by family. Family was her everything. She died alone. Lay there for who knows how long before they discovered she was gone. At her funeral, we were not allowed to go near her or kiss her goodbye. We had to see her being buried through an iron gate 100 feet away. Where is the dignity for her and the closure for us? Too many seniors have lost their lives, many have suffered and are still suffering. The province has not learned from the first wave, or the second. How many more seniors have to die? This cannot happen again!!!"
Fred Cramer, who lost his mother, Ruth Cramer, to COVID-19 at Orchard Villa
“My mother always said, ‘Don’t put me in a nursing home, I will not go.’ After reading the ‘gut-wrenching’ military report of May 2020, I feel her fears came true.”
The following motion, tabled by Andrea Horwath, will be debated and voted on in the legislature on Tuesday, March 30:
Whereas on March 30, 2020, Premier Ford announced an iron ring around Ontario’s long-term care homes to protect vulnerable seniors from COVID-19; and
Whereas decades of underfunding and neglect by Liberal and Conservative governments left long-term care staff and residents susceptible to the virus, and more than half of all of Ontario’s COVID-19 deaths – 3,764 as of March 22, 2021 – have happened in the province’s long-term care homes; and
Whereas statistics show that there were more COVID-19 related deaths in long-term care facilities in the second wave than in the first wave, long after Premier’s Ford’s promise of an iron-ring around long-term care;
Therefore, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario calls on the Ford government to issue a formal apology to long-term care residents, workers and their families for breaking its promise of an iron ring of protection around long-term care and for its failure to adequately protect residents and staff, and to declare March 30 of each year as a provincial day of mourning for the victims of COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes.