‘We have not forgotten’: Ontario Health Coalition continuing call for long-term care home reforms

Around 17 people gathered outside MPP, Jeff Yurek’s office in St. Thomas to advocate for changes to long-term care on Oct. 4, 2021. Andrew Graham / Global News

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) is advocating for better standards in long-term care and an end to for-profit homes in a string of protests in St. Thomas, Ont., and across the province.

Around 17 people have gathered outside Progressive Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek’s office in St. Thomas.

The protest in the Elgin—Middlesex—London riding comes on the opening day of Ontario’s legislature and is one of 17 happening throughout the province.

“We are here to remind him (Yurek) as well as Premier Ford’s government that we have not forgotten the carnage that took place in our long-term care homes in Ontario and we deserve concrete action as opposed to some nice words,” said Peter Bergmanis, co-chair of the London Health Coalition.

“When it comes tine to really act, not much happens, and we need action.”

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Last year, members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to Ontario homes hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A report prepared by troops working in the homes set off alarm bells throughout the province in May, detailing horrifying conditions in some homes, including allegations of neglect and failure to follow health protocols.

The report furthered calls to reform Ontario’s long-term care system.

Following a review of seniors’ care in the province, the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission called for an overhaul of the sector earlier this year, saying the government wasn’t prepared for a pandemic and failed to act as quickly as other jurisdictions.

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As of Oct. 4, Ontario is reporting that 3,820 residents have died in long-term care homes, along with 13 staff members.

“If 4,000 people died in a calamity there would be a day of mourning but this government seems to run the other way,” Bergmanis said.

Susan Goldin at the Ontario Health Coalition’s protest for long-term care homes in St. Thomas on Oct. 4, 2021. Andrew Graham / Global News

Among those in attendance was Susan Goldin, whose father and sister were both residents of long-term care homes in London, Ont.

Goldin said due to lack of staffing, her loved ones did not get proper stimulation and in her sister’s case was sometimes not bathed for over a week.

“The staff that took care of my dad and my sister were wonderful, but they were too few, and they just could not do certain things for them that they would love to do,” Goldin said.

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“She was supposed to have baths twice a week, and she did not have a bath for 10 days, but there weren’t enough PSWs (personal support workers) to give her a bath.”

The coalition is calling for betters laws to enforce care, more inspections of homes, and an end to for-profit homes, which were found to be the worst.

—with files from Andrew Graham and The Canadain Press

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