Ontario needs to increase funding and staffing and stop relying on temp agencies at the province’s long-term care homes, according to the recommendations of the Wettlaufer Inquiry. The NDP wants those critical recommendations implemented immediately, and is also calling for the province to look into how the systemic vulnerabilities identified in Justice Eileen Gillese’s report are impacting seniors in care homes daily.
“Our hearts are with the families of Wettlaufer’s victims today,” said NDP Long-Term Care critic Teresa Armstrong, who was in Woodstock for the release of the Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System final report.
“It must have been excruciating for the families of the victims to hear that there were systemic vulnerabilities in long-term care. There was only one killer responsible for these heinous crimes — but it’s clear that the province can and must do better to protect everyone who lives in long-term care. A major conclusion of this report is that we need even more caring, professional front-line workers in care homes.”
The NDP is calling on the Ford government to immediately lay out a plan to fulfil each recommendation, with timelines.
But the NDP has also been calling for the long-term care inquiry to be expanded into a second phase. Beyond the mandated focus on what allowed these heinous acts to take place, a second part to the inquiry would examine conditions in seniors care — from nutrition to staffing complements, training and more — and how that impacts residents every day.
That push from the NDP is strikingly similar to Gillese’s recommendation 85, which calls for a study on staffing levels on each shift to be tabled in the legislature by July 31, 2020, and for funding to be increased to match its findings.
“With the vulnerabilities identified by this inquiry, imagine how vulnerable seniors in care are to violence, or unintentional neglect,” said Armstrong. “Seniors in care need to be protected from more than just killers, which are thankfully rare. Proper staffing and adequate funding protects our loved ones from resident-on-resident violence, from medication errors, and from falls.
“It’s clear that we owe our parents and grandparents in care better than they’re getting today.”