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No criminal charges to be laid against CHSLD Herron over COVID-19 deaths

Click to play video: 'No criminal charges to be laid against CHSLD Herron over COVID-19 deaths' No criminal charges to be laid against CHSLD Herron over COVID-19 deaths
WATCH: The tragedy that unfolded at the Herron private seniors' long-term care home in Montreal's West Island left many wondering if anyone would be accountable for the dozens of deaths during the first wave of COVID-19. As Global’s Dan Spector reports, Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) has decided that the owners of the now defunct seniors home will not face criminal charges. – Aug 26, 2021

No criminal charges will be laid against Residence Herron in Dorval, Que., in connection with the deaths of more than 40 seniors during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) released its decision Thursday, following what it described as an “exhaustive” review of the case of the long-term care home ravaged by the health crisis.

The evidence does not meet the requirements to file criminal charges, according to Quebec Crown prosecutor’s office. In a statement, it said it focused on evidence gathered during an investigation by Montreal police as well as certain additional investigations and medical expertise.

Read more: Montreal families reach $5.5M settlement in lawsuit against Herron long-term care home

The DPCP says its decision to not lay criminal charges “in no way trivializes the tragic events” that unfolded at the nursing home, where 47 people died during COVID-19 outbreaks in spring 2020.

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“Nor does it mean that any fault of civil or ethical nature could not have been committed,” the office said.

The CHSLD Herron was one of the long-term care homes in the province hardest hit by COVID-19, prompting several investigations into the facility and a wider coroner’s inquest into virus-related deaths at seniors residences. It also led to a larger discussion about the quality of senior care in Quebec.

Quebec’s long-term care homes largely bore the brunt of the health crisis’ first wave. It thrust a spotlight on the challenges facing them, including critical staffing shortages. In wake of the deaths, the province also launched an intensive training program to recruit thousands of new orderlies in its labour-strapped nursing homes.

READ MORE: ‘Major shortcomings’ led to ‘uncontrollable repercussions’ amid COVID-19 outbreak at Herron: report

The DPCP said Thursday it cannot explain its decision to the families of the victims until the completion of a coroner’s inquest into the deaths. The inquest’s hearings were postponed to September, with the coroner saying it was best to wait until Crown prosecutors decide if Herron management would face criminal charges.

Quebec Premier François Legault said Thursday that what happened at the nursing home was “unacceptable” but the government has “made a lot of changes so that it will never happen again.”

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“Regarding criminal charges, it’s not my responsibility,” he told reporters in Quebec City.

Earlier this year, a settlement was reached between families and the Herron’s owners for $5.5 million.

‘Not surprised at all’

Patrizia Di Biase’s mother lived at the Herron during the first wave but she has dementia and doesn’t remember what she lived through. Di Biase called the decision not to file criminal charges “ridiculous.”

“Why didn’t they get anything?” she said.

She hopes the coroner’s inquest into the situation at the residence will play a role in “finally bringing some answers to some of the key questions that have not yet been answered.”

Peter Wheeland, whose parents both spent time at the facility, said he was “not surprised at all” by the announcement.

“I think if there was evidence they could act on, they would have acted on it a lot earlier.”

Global News reached out to a lawyer for Groupe Katasa, which owned the Herron at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, but did not hear back.

Click to play video: 'Settlement reached in case pitting Montreal families against Herron long-term care home' Settlement reached in case pitting Montreal families against Herron long-term care home
Settlement reached in case pitting Montreal families against Herron long-term care home – Mar 31, 2021

— with files from Global News’ Dan Spector and The Canadian Press

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