Toronto, July 31, 2019 - The Elizabeth Wettlaufer murders were terrible human tragedies
and our heartfelt condolences go to the families of the victims, said the Ontario
Health Coalition today on the occasion of the release of the report from Ontario's
public inquiry into long-term care.
The Coalition, which has advocated for improved access to care and improved regulated
levels of care, released the following briefing note in response to the Inquiry's
Briefing Note on Key Issues in Long-term Care + Public Inquiry Recommendations
"The report from the public inquiry into Ontario’s long-term care homes following
the Elizabeth Wettlaufer murders highlights the need for systemic responses including
improved staffing and care levels. The inquiry focused on nursing and therefore
did not make recommendations regarding the full range of daily hands on care staff
including personal support workers but its general thrust regarding the rising acuity
of the residents and the need for improved staffing to meet those needs should be
applied broadly to the daily hands on staff.
The Ontario Health Coalition's member organizations, including the patient/client
advocacy groups, family councils, unions, health professionals and doctors have
total consensus that the key issue in long-term care is the urgent need for improvement
in daily hands on care. That the level of care should be a minimum average of 4-hours
per resident per day, based on the evidence of what is needed to meet the acuity
(complexity and heaviness) of the care needs of the residents.
"The Inquiry report recommendations were limited to the scope of the Inquiry, but
still identified key issues of note that address longstanding problems in long-term
- That aging baby boomers are not to blame for increasing long-term care needs and
these needs will increase due to lower birth rates and longer life spans, and that
proper government planning to meet those needs in the long-terms need must be taken.
- Systemic changes are needed to improve the safety and security of residents. The
Wettlaufer inquiry looked at the rare circumstance of a serial murderer but the
coalition notes that this observation also applies to the general level of violence
in long-term care homes. While the Inquiry report rightfully notes that there is
much loving care that happens in long-term care, and the Coalition also wants to
underline this, there is still a significant issue of violence that urgently needs
to be addressed. The Ontario Health Coalition release a major
new research report earlier this year revealing that resident-on-resident
homicide rates are higher in Ontario’s long-term care homes than in any major cities
in the province and that staff accident and injury rates are the highest of any
sector in our economy. The government must improve care levels to address the safety
issues raised by the Wettlaufer Inquiry and also these safety issues that should
be intolerable in a civilized society.
- Improved care levels will require adequate resources including provincial funding
- The inquiry did not call for deregulation or reduced inspections. The Ontario Health
Coalition has called on the government to reject lobbying by long-term care home
owners for deregulation and reduced inspection and enforcement.
Today the Ford government did not make any clear commitment to implement the Inquiry
recommendations, only to review them and report back in a year. The Ford government
also announced this morning that it is going to delay significant cuts to Ontario’s
long-term care homes by three months. Those cuts hit municipal long-term care homes
particularly hard. But the Ford government did not cancel the cuts to the two special
funds that amount to $34 million, they only delayed them for three months.
The cuts to the two funds outlined in an earlier
news release are in addition to real dollar overall budget cuts for Ontario's
long-term care sector and long-term care homes are reporting that they are looking
at significant program and service cuts as a result.