Ford vows to fix longterm care when his family is hit with Covid-19


Diane Colangelo visits her 86-year-old mother Patricia through a window at Orchard Villa Long-term Care Home in Pickering, Ontario

DOUG FORD GOT ALL CHOKED UP. It gave Smokey Thomas cause for hope.

“We respect the conclusion drawn by a clearly emotional Premier Ford today that government must do a better job with long-term care,” said Thomas, the president of  the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

Ford’s emotional moment came during a media briefing April 23 when he shared news that his 95-year-old mother-in-law tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolated in a longterm care home in Toronto, where his wife could only stand outside and look through a window to “visit” with her mother.

“When...you see a loved one with their elderly parent and they put their hand up against the window that’s heartbreaking,” said Ford, his voice heavy with emotion.

“I relate to it in our own family … with my wife Karla.”

“It affects everyone. Everyone has grandparents or friends or a family member somewhere in longterm care.”

“It breaks my heart watching Karla standing outside the window in tears.”

Courage, humility and action

“Today the premier owned the sins of bad government decisions spanning the Harris, McGuinty and Wynne years,” said Thomas. “That took both courage and humility. But we still need to fix things. And, that fix is for the government to directly deliver these services.

“Successive governments in Ontario have been privatizing health care, scaling back inspections, selling off its assets and under-funding essential services for way too long.

“It was only a matter of time before all the cutting and slashing would come back to hurt us. And now it has—big time.”

Bring all services back ‘in-house’

There was a 20% increase in the number of people in Ontario aged 75 and older from 2011 to 2018. However, there was less than a 1% increase in the number of longterm care beds.

“So, while today’s government owns the problem, they didn’t create it overnight. But now it’s on the Premier to fix it,” said Thomas.

“And we can help. More staff, better pay, full-time jobs, rigorous health and safety, tightening regulation and enforcement and a healthy dose of accountability are the keys to fixing a system on life support.

“Mortality rates in this pandemic are skyrocketing for those over the age of 70,” says Thomas. “It was their generation that took such good care of us and this is how we pay them back? We leave them to suffer in under-staffed homes that are run by managers who put profits before people.

“It’s time to bring our senior’s homes back in-house where they belong.”

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