Wettlaufer inquiry restricted, families with loved ones in care silenced

Jan 18, 2018 @ 17:35

Families and care workers that wanted to testify at the Wettlaufer inquiry about problems in long-term care homes have been denied the opportunity to speak. The inquiry’s mandate from Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals doesn’t include listening to those people – and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that shows why a second phase, broad, find-and-fix public inquiry into long-term care is critical.

“Silencing sons, daughters, spouses, siblings and other loved ones as well as front-line caregivers of people in care is wrong – these are the people we need to hear from the most,” said Horwath. “Heartbreaking stories of abuse are all too common throughout the province. Too often, people visit family members in care only to find them distraught, sometimes with unexplained injuries.  We continue to hear stories of seniors not getting the help they need to protect their health, their dignity or even their safety in seniors care homes – and ignoring these families leaves problems uncovered and solutions ignored.”

A ruling issued by Justice Eileen Gillese, Commissioner of the Wettlaufer inquiry, states that the inquiry now underway is restricted to events that led to the Wettlaufer murders – excluding applicants who have relatives or friends in long-term care homes, and those that work in long-term care.

Since June, Andrea Horwath has been calling for a complete public inquiry into the state of seniors long-term care in Ontario to be added as a second phase to the inquiry. While the first can focus on circumstances that led to eight residents in care homes being killed; the second would consider systemic issues in long-term care, including safety of residents and staff, quality of care, funding levels, staffing levels, and enforcement and inspection.

“For months, the Wynne government shot down our calls to expand the Wettlaufer inquiry and get to the bottom of what’s going on in long-term care,” said Horwath. “The families of Wettlaufer’s victims need answers – but then we need to do the work of overhauling the troubled system that thousands of seniors are still relying on.

“It’s now clearer than ever that families are being let down and the Wettlaufer inquiry alone is inadequate.”

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