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Teresa Armstrong calls on province to expand long-term care inquiry after London home ordered to stop accepting new residents

London—Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong in the Ontario Legislature, Oct. 4, 2017, querying the government on long-term care. Screenshot / Queen's Park video stream

The inclusion of a London nursing home among three across the province ordered to stop taking new residents underscores the need to tackle systemic issues in long-term care, a local MPP says.

London-Fanshawe New Democrat Teresa Armstrong spoke at Queen’s Park Wednesday morning to call on the government to expand the scope of its inquiry into former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s murder of eight long-term care residents. This came after news broke that London’s Earls Court long-term care home, alongside a Caressant Care facility in Fergus and Mississauga’s Tyndall Nursing Home, were fingered by the government over substandard care.

The homes in question continue to house existing residents but are barred from accepting new residents.

READ MORE: Ontario NDP call for expanded long-term care inquiry

Armstrong, who serves as her party’s critic for home and long-term care, says the problems leading to the citation are not new — under-staffing and under-funding. Despite this, wait lists for long-term care beds continue to grow.

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“The wait list for long-term care in Ontario now tops 30,000 people,” said Armstrong. “Yet the premier seems content with the status quo. She seems content to just stop admissions to the worst homes and ignore the fact the wait list is growing and conditions across the province are worsening. We are going in the wrong direction on seniors care in Ontario — instead of improving care and opening new homes to meet the huge demand, we are allowing heartbreaking conditions to become the normal and doing nothing about the wait-list.”

Armstrong said she wants the existing inquiry into the Wettlaufer murders shifted to a two-phase inquiry, which will later “find and fix systemic issues in long-term care.” This, she said, would include analyzing funding, hours of hands-on care, care protocols, enforcement of policies and wait times.

Responding in Queen’s Park, Health Minister Eric Hoskins called the state of care at the three homes in question “unacceptable.”

READ MORE: Ontario names appeal court judge to head public inquiry into long-term care homes

“It is completely unacceptable that these operators are not meeting the province’s standards,” said Health Minister Eric Hoskins. “It’s important to recognize the vast majority of long-term care homes in this province are complying fully with the act, many of them going beyond the act and providing that important safe, high-quality care to the residents of their homes.”

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Hoskins also touted the province’s annual inspection system, which he said is seeing positive results. The three long-term care home directives his government issued this week are not evidence of a systemic problem, but proof the enforcement system is working, he said.

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