The province of Nova Scotia has been informed that it will be added as a defendant in the proposed class-action lawsuit against Northwood Manor and its handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In a news release Wednesday, Wagners Law Firm said Erica Surette — the proposed class-action plaintiff — intends to add the province as a defendant in the lawsuit, which alleges Northwood breached its legal obligations to its residents due to “inaction and inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The notice of intended action — a document that is served to the province in advance of adding it as a defendant in the lawsuit — alleges the province was “negligent in various ways,” which caused or contributed to the unsafe operation of Northwood Halifax.
“The allegations relate to inadequate and negligent funding prior to and during the COVID-19 outbreak, notwithstanding known overcrowding issues, apparent need and the onset of the pandemic that requires quarantine and physical distancing, and to which the elderly are particularly vulnerable,” the release from Wagners Law Firm reads.
“It is also alleged the province carried out its oversight and licensing duties negligently and did not enforce safety, health and sanitation rules and regulations or appropriately act in response to known violations.”
The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed on June 1. Surette lost her 66-year-old mother Patricia West on April 22 after she was moved from a single to a shared room on March 26 in the midst of the pandemic.
“There are questions as to why shared rooms were even allowed, why there was no support or oversight ensuring that residents had appropriate physical space and accommodations and why staff did not have needed protective equipment during the pandemic,” she said.
Northwood Halifax operates as the largest long-term care facility in Atlantic Canada. There have been 246 confirmed cases at the facility, with 193 people recovered and 53 deaths.
There have been 99 confirmed staff infections as well. There are currently no active cases at Northwood or within Nova Scotia.
The suit claims the province’s negligence resulted in an “ideal environment for COVID-19 to spread throughout the facility.”
“Furthermore, once the outbreak hit, it is alleged that the province took no action to prevent, mitigate, or eliminate the lethal spread of COVID-19 or provide resources to enable Northwood staff to respond to the crisis conditions,” the suit claims.
Global News has reached out to the province for comment and is awaiting a response.