Ombudson Ontario report: Lessons for the long term

Last Thursday, the Ombudsman for Ontario, Paul Dubé released a lengthy report outlining his investigation into the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s oversight of long-term care homes through inspection and enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full report HERE, as well as remarks by Mr. Dubé at Queen’s Park, and a document outlining Facts & Highlights.

The report details how Ontario’s long-term care inspection system was overwhelmed during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ministry overseeing care homes was caught unprepared and unable to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

Concerned Friends responded with Letters to the Editor of The Globe and Mail and  the Toronto Star. We made the following points:

“The Ombudsman has it right, but the emphasis on COVID-19’s impact is misleading. Yes, of course, COVID-19 was devastating for residents and exposed the multiple flaws and deficiencies in our long-term care home system, but these same deficiencies existed long before the virus.

The real problem is the provincial framework that was quietly introduced in the fall of 2018. This approach effectively ended regular comprehensive inspections that hold operators accountable for keeping residents safe and healthy – in the face of both pandemic or non-pandemic times.

Concerned Friends, has argued again and again for the reinstatement of annual, unscheduled, proactive, comprehensive inspections with thorough and timely follow-through on any non-compliances.

Recent legislative changes (Fixing Long-term Care Act) still fall short of making these inspections mandatory. And implementation of proactive inspections (not a response to a complaint or critical incident) has been slow at best. Meaningful inspections must be the first step in making sure provincial standards are met and residents are safe.”

That said, we do applaud this exhaustive and illuminating report along with the 75 detailed recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

We urge you to read the Ombudsman’s Report and express your concerns to your local MPP or to the newly appointed Minister of Long-Term Care, Stanley Cho. As we head into another potential season of increasing RSV and COVID infections, the time is now for an effective Inspection system that protects the health of LTCH residents and staff.

Additionally, if you have any feedback you’d like to share with our Policy & Advocacy Committee, please connect with our Operations & Communications Coordinator, Carol Austin by email at info@concernedfriends.ca

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