Coronavirus: Human rights complaint lodged over treatment of Quebec’s long-term care residents

An elderly woman looks out of a window at Maison Herron, a long-term care home in the Montreal suburb of Dorval, Sunday, April 12, 2020, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The ongoing novel coronavirus crisis that has been unfolding in dozens of Quebec long-term care homes for several weeks is now the subject of an official complaint.

The Conseil pour la protection des malades (CPM), which works to protect the rights of patients, filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Quebec Human Rights Commission. A copy of the complaint was sent to the Canadian Press.

Citing the Quebec Charter of Human Rights, the complaint alleges discrimination and exploitation of seniors who live or have lived in a long-term care home (CHSLD) or seniors residence since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

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The CPM complaint is calling for an end to the suffering of the elderly. It is also demanding that financial compensation be paid to residents whose right to receive dignified and safe care has allegedly been violated since the beginning of March.

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The complaint alleges that at the beginning of March, the Quebec government and health authorities should have known that the majority of deaths caused by COVID-19 would involve the elderly based on information available in other countries.

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The CPM also contends that the authorities should have known that CHSLDs were most at risk for outbreaks and transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

READ MORE: Quebec coronavirus deaths top 1,000 as cases soar past 20,000

The organization claims Premier François Legault and the Quebec government only declared that long-term care facilities were their priority in the fight against COVID-19 on April 2. The complaint alleges that the province therefore delayed authorizing and ordering exceptional measures to protect residents.

Paul Brunet, president of the CPM, wrote in the complaint that “thousands of elderly people (…) have been mistreated, neglected, several have died while the government, health authorities, CHSLDs and residences for the elderly have exploited and violated their fundamental rights to the dignity, integrity and security of their person.”

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In Canada, COVID-19 had killed 1,974 people, including 1,134 in Quebec, as of Thursday morning. The majority of victims in the province are seniors, and many of them resided in long-term care facilities.

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The CPM is asking anyone who believes they have suffered from a lack of care and services in a CHSLD since March to contact the organization so that they can be included in the complaint.

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