December 4th, 2020

NDP calls on Ford to reverse his cut to inspections in nursing homes

Commission confirms government inspected just 27 homes in 2019

QUEEN’S PARK — The Official Opposition is calling for comprehensive inspections to be brought back in long-term care homes, a year after Doug Ford cut them. That call comes in response to a second interim recommendation letter from the Long Term Care Commission, which shows that a lack of inspections and infection prevention in nursing homes is causing more illness and death from COVID-19.

“Doug Ford tried to save a buck by cutting back the annual, comprehensive inspections — and that cut ended up costing us so much more,” said NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh. “It’s costing us lives. It’s costing us the safety and well-being of our loved ones. It’s one of the reasons we have an ongoing, deadly and devastating crisis in hundreds of long-term care homes and it’s within our power as a province to change that.”

The Commission confirmed that only 27 resident quality inspections (RQI) were conducted in 2019 after Doug Ford cut them. Prior to that, each of Ontario’s roughly 640 nursing homes were supposed to be inspected annually, and hundreds were done every year.

RQIs are completely different from complaint-based or critical incident inspections, during which an inspector follows up on one specific incident, not checking the rest of the home or overall safety and quality of care.

The Commission’s report also showed that every long-term care home needs an infection prevention and control expert in the home to prevent the spread of COVID-19; and it paints a contrast between public nursing homes, where leaders jumped into action to move residents out of shared rooms and into safer conditions, and for-profit homes, where residents are left at greater risk in shared rooms.

“So far, 2,357 people have died in long-term care as a result of this pandemic, and thousands of families have gone through hell,” said Singh. “Report after report raises problem after problem, and Doug Ford just keeps trying to do the bare minimum."

“It doesn’t have to be this way. The NDP has called for the return of comprehensive inspections. We’ve called for at least one infection prevention and control specialist in every single long-term care home. We’ve called for an end to for-profit corporations owning or operating long-term care homes, cutting corners in order to pocket bigger profits. We can give our parents and grandparents better care and more safety.”

An earlier interim report revealed that the commission "heard that long-term care homes were forgotten in the initial provincial plans to control the spread of COVID-19 until residents started dying.”