Since the pandemic began, the big three for-profit long-term care corporations have hired close Doug Ford allies to protect their financial interests by lobbying Ford and his government. Since the pandemic began, at least four top Ford allies and senior staffers have registered to lobby the government on behalf of the big three: Extendicare, Revera and Chartwell.
● Melissa Lantsman registered April 27 to lobby Doug Ford’s office on behalf of Extendicare. Lantsman was Ford’s campaign spokesperson and war room director in 2018 and currently serves as Vice-President of the PC Party of Ontario and as a member of the PC 2022 election readiness committee leaders advisory council.
● Lauren McDonald, Premier Ford’s former Director of Marketing, registered May 7 to lobby the Ontario Government on behalf of Revera.
● Michael Wilson, former Chief of Staff to the Attorney General in the Ford government, registered May 5 to lobby Ford’s office on behalf of Revera.
● Leslie Noble, former PC campaign manager and party stalwart, registered March 31 to lobby Ford’s office on behalf of Chartwell Retirement Residences.
Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats, said this raises serious questions about who has Doug Ford’s ear on the future of long-term care in Ontario.
“What conversations is Doug Ford having behind closed doors as Conservative insiders lobby him and his government on behalf of the big-three for-profit long-term care providers in Ontario?” said Horwath — who directly asked Ford if he is willing to get for-profit corporate interests out of long-term care in question period on Wednesday. Ford literally refused to answer the question.
“Every dollar that flows to long-term care should be spent on caring for seniors and paying staff properly, not siphoned away for corporate profits and shareholder dividends,” said Horwath. “It’s shocking, quite frankly, to see private long-term care providers pocketing a profit while seniors in their homes are suffering so horribly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Private for-profit long-term care corporations continue to post annual revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario opened the gates to private for-profit long-term care homes in the 1990s, a move by former PC premier Mike Harris, who is now the chair of the board of Chartwell, a massive private for-profit long-term care corporation.