Long-term care home thought agency was responsible for Elizabeth Wettlaufer background check: provincial inspector

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Dave Chidley

A provincial inspector says the agency that hired serial killer Elizabeth Wettlaufer and placed her at different long-term care homes had a habit of failing to conduct background checks.

READ MORE: Witnesses from Telfer Place testify in long-term-care home inquiry

In 2015, Wettlaufer attempted to murder patient Sandra Towler at Telfer Place in Paris; she was hired through the agency Lifeguard Homecare.

Testifying Friday afternoon at the public inquiry into long-term care homes, Lisa Vink said an investigation revealed that of three agency staff, no criminal background checks were completed.

“The home was ensuring that the criminal reference checks were in place for their own staff in the home,” she explained.

“There was a contract [between the home and Lifeguard]. I will admit it was a very vague and small contract. Did it specifically make mention related to criminal reference checks? No. But that was definitely the understanding of the individuals we spoke with.”
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READ MORE: ‘My heart dropped’: Provincial inspector recalls narcotics probe involving Elizabeth Wettlaufer

When asked if Lifeguard is required to follow provincial legislation, Vink said that the legislation is for long-term care homes and not agencies.

“To my knowledge, any agency isn’t required to follow our legislation.”

She added that when investigators attempted to contact Lifeguard, they were shut down.

“To be very honest with you, repeated attempts were made to speak with the agency. Unfortunately, we were not able to talk to them. They declined speaking with us on a number of occasions.”

The inquiry is tasked with reviewing how Wettlaufer was able to get away with murdering and hurting patients for roughly 10 years.

In 2017, Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for 25 years after pleading guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempt to commit murder, for incidents between 2007 and 2016.

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