Calls for Northwood inquiry heightened after concerns raised at Ontario, Quebec care homes

Click to play video 'Call for Northwood public inquiry renewed after two provinces report ‘disturbing’ conditions' Call for Northwood public inquiry renewed after two provinces report ‘disturbing’ conditions
WATCH: According to reports out of Ontario and Quebec, military personnel have experienced disturbing conditions in long-term care, which resulted in renewed calls for a public inquiry into Halifax’s Northwood facility. Ashley Field reports.

There are increased calls for a public inquiry into how the novel coronavirus outbreak was handled at Northwood Manor in Halifax after damning reports out of Ontario and Quebec.

According to military documents, military personnel sent to nursing homes in Ontario say they have witnessed “disturbing conditions,” including “blatant disregard” for infection control measures and mistreatment of residents.

Jason MacLean, the president of the Nova Scotia General Employees Union (NSGEU), believes similar reports would come out of Northwood if the military was there.

“Don’t forget, three weeks ago you got that report from NSGEU, our members told you what was going on and our members reported to Nova Scotians that people were at risk in that facility,” MacLean said.

READ MORE: Military teams raise concerns about conditions at Ontario care homes

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Northwood’s Halifax campus, the largest long-term care home east of Montreal, has been dealing with the province’s most significant COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Wednesday, the facility has been faced with nearly a third of the total COVID-19 cases in the province. There have been 52 deaths at the facility, 246 cases among residents and 98 among staff.

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There are currently 12 active resident cases and four active staff cases. It’s currently the only long-term care facility in the province with active cases.

Click to play video 'Premier Stephen McNeil speaks about the situation at Northwood in Halifax' Premier Stephen McNeil speaks about the situation at Northwood in Halifax
Premier Stephen McNeil speaks about the situation at Northwood in Halifax

Janet Hazelton of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union says the situation at Northwood isn’t as bad as what Ontario and Quebec are dealing with, but staffing remains a constant concern.

“Again, it took the military to identify something that those unions in those provinces have been saying for a very long time,” she said.

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Nova Scotia’s opposition parties are echoing those calls for an inquiry.

“I think one of the lessons we need to learn is whether there should have been a quicker action to remove people from those environments,” said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston,

READ MORE: Nova Scotia health minister breaks silence on Northwood coronavirus outbreak

NDP Leader Gary Burrill says the inquiry could pay dividends come the fall.

“So that they could be put into play and practice before we find ourselves in a second or subsequent wave, or in a pandemic situation with another or related virus,” said Burrill.

Premier Stephen McNeil has not committed to a public inquiry, but says the situation will be “reviewed.”

“As I believe will happen across the country, there will be a review of particularly of those larger facilities that have a number of residents in one spot,” he said during Wednesday’s afternoon COVID-19 press briefing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remained tight-lipped over whether a national inquiry should be called, only saying he’ll be discussing it with premiers during a call Thursday.