Ontario Long-term Care Commission’s report “both a call to action and a horror”

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What follows is our official statement on the release of the final report by Ontario’s Long-term Care Commission.

Toronto ON, April 30—CanAge, Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization, says the final report by Ontario’s Long-term Care Commission adds further fuel to the fire in calling for an overhaul of a seniors’ care system that has utterly failed, dubbing the findings in the report both “a call to action and a horror”. 

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, is a leading commentator on the long-term care crisis and presented recommendations to the Commission late last year. She was specifically quoted in the report. She says CanAge wholeheartedly agrees with the solutions put forth in the report, noting that many of the advocacy organization’s policy recommendations were included.

Tamblyn Watts notes that “This report is heartbreaking.  It painstakingly details residents abandoned by the government and health care system, the unnecessary loss of thousands of residents’ lives and staff left without basic PPE protections using garbage bags as IPAC.  It is the story of a governments’ failures to protect our most vulnerable.  Of administrative finger-pointing and an abandonment of a desperate long-term care sector. This is both a call to action and a horror. It is not, however, a surprise”.

“Between the Auditor General’s findings and now this final report from the province’s own independent Commission into long-term care, it’s certainly been an eye-opening week for Ontario’s Ministry of Long-term Care,” continues Tamblyn Watts. “I wish we could say we were shocked by the findings, but they simply pour more fuel on the fire of what we’ve been saying all along. This is a severely broken senior’s care system, and it has to change, now.”

She adds that the long-term care crisis in Ontario is made all the worse by the fact that “it could have been prevented by planning ahead, establishing infection control protocols and investing dollars to bring antiquated and understaffed homes up to par—that window of opportunity was, sadly, consistently ignored.”

Among the most alarming findings in the report were:

  • Care staff forced to use garbage bags for infection protection and control
  • Profound lack of coordination between the Ministry of Long-Term Care and key decision-makers 
  • Most of the loss of life can be attributed to the failure of the government to take action in the first 2 months of the pandemic
  • Multiple failures in Infection Prevention and Control, including lack of PPE, lack of universal masking policies and lack of implementation of the 2003 SARS protocols
  • Utterly destructive impact of visitor restrictions leading to residents experiencing “Confinement Syndrome”, loss of physical and mental well-being

“Unacceptable issues like these are well-documented and we’ve been advocating for urgent change on them since the pandemic began,” notes Tamblyn Watts. “What we need now is quick and decisive action from the government before the third wave of COVID-19 claims the lives of any more residents in these homes.”

“Another isolating lockdown away from their families and caregivers is not an option,” concludes Tamblyn Watts. CanAge made a set of evidence-based recommendations to improve long-term care in the province in its pre-budget submission, which are outlined in its policy platform ‘VOICES: A Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada.


Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

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