Aging boomers face uncertain retirement as Covid-19 slams Ontario long-term care homes

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Muskoka Post Staff

Today the Ministry of Long-Term Care issued Mandatory Management Orders appointing local hospitals to temporarily manage two long-term care homes for 90 days. Southlake Regional Health Centre will temporarily manage River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton and Humber River Hospital will temporarily manage Downsview Long Term Care in North York. The orders may be extended beyond the 90 days, if necessary.

Queen's Park officials said that despite receiving hospital support for weeks, these homes have been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19. By taking these steps the government is enabling a rigorous management structure to help contain the spread of the disease and assist in returning these homes to normal operations.

"Our government is using every tool available to keep Ontarians safe, especially our most vulnerable people during this unprecedented time," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. "I am confident that the talented staff at these hospitals and long-term care homes will work together to contain COVID-19 and move beyond the crisis."

The Ministry of Long-Term Care said it will continue to make decisions on which long-term care homes may require additional management support on a case-by-case basis. The province is working with its health partners in addressing challenges in the long-term care sector by involving hospitals in deploying Infection Prevention and Control teams to homes, continued staff and resident testing, addressing personal protective equipment supply issues, and redeploying hospital staff to help with critical staffing shortages in long-term care homes.

This press release comes on the heels of the news this month that deaths in long-term care facilities now account for more than 80% of deaths from Covid-19 in Canada. CTV news recently reported that "international data is difficult to compare, though an analysis by researches at the University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, and the London School of Economic have awarded Canada the troubling distinction of having the highest proportion of Covid-19 deaths related to care homes of the 14 countries studied as of April 26."

The Canadian Labour Congress shed some light on issues at long-term care homes when it recently published 21 recommendations to improve long-term care once the pandemic has passed, this includes higher wages for employees and legislating staff ratios. It also recommends the elimination of private homes and an increase in federal oversight by making long-term care a part of the Canada Health Act.

The organization said private homes and public health-care interests are "diametrically opposed, as they attempt to maximize profit, often on the backs of workers."

On April 23 federal health minister Patty Hajdu said that she's considering the idea of a "long-term national project" to examine the issue across all levels of government.

"There is a significant appetite of Canadians and of politicians to fix this situation once and for all ... for seniors all across the country, and for their families who love them," she said.

The long-term health care system was on its way to broken well before the pandemic but it has taken Covid-19 to expose the crumbling cracks in the infrastructure. It will take a special leader with incredibly talented supporters to transparently fix care for Canada's seniors as our baby boomer generation barrels toward decades of seniorhood.

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