NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul joined a crowd of protesters outside St. George Care Community, a for-profit facility operated by Sienna Senior Living. The two leaders called on the federal government to play a greater role in protecting residents of long-term care facilities in Ontario from COVID-19.
Singh said Ottawa should work with provinces to increase the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines as the second wave of the pandemic continues. An increase in the number of people vaccinated against the novel coronavirus would help prevent deaths in long-term care homes, he said.
“We have seen COVID-19 devastate older people in our country. there is no doubt. They were disproportionately affected and we lost lives, ”Singh said.
“Profit kills the elderly. We must take advantage of long term care. ”
Singh has said he wants family members of residents of long-term care homes to know that what they and their loved ones have gone through since the start of the pandemic is totally unacceptable.
“It’s heartbreaking and it’s wrong. What is happening is simply inexcusable. There is no excuse. They are our relatives. They are some of the most vulnerable people, ”he said. “You don’t deserve to have this happen to your family. If your loved one is in a healthcare facility, you shouldn’t have to worry about it or worry about the horrible conditions.
Singh said there had been an “abject failure” of provincial leadership in Ontario by Premier Doug Ford with respect to residents of long-term care facilities.
“Prime Minister Ford is completely lacking in seniors,” he added.
Paul’s father, Peter Paul, who resided at St. George Care Community, died in the spring after developing an infection. Annamie Paul alleges that her death was due to negligence.
“My father is not dead from COVID-19 but from the perfect storm of conditions that we had in the first wave and which we are seeing again in the second wave,” Paul told reporters.
“I am very moved at the moment. I am very grateful to everyone who has come here today. The perfect storm is that we have facilities that are already understaffed before the pandemic hits. ”
Paul has argued on behalf of a family member who still has relatives in long-term care homes or who have lost loved ones in facilities to COVID-19.
“Please help. Please make sure you follow the recommendations of our experts. They are clear, they are applicable and they would make a difference tomorrow if there was political will, ”she said.
“All that remains is the political will to have long-term care facilities vaccinated, to run rapid tests in long-term facilities, to ensure that families who are the eyes and ears of their loved ones in these facilities have safe access so they can make sure their loved ones are looked after and to ensure that there is staff and respect for the women who do this difficult, backbreaking and dangerous work. ”
According to the University Health Network (UHN) of Toronto, which signed a voluntary management contract for St. George Care Community on Jan.4, there are currently 29 active cases of COVID-19 among residents and 28 among staff at the hospital. ‘establishment. The house, which has 238 beds, has 140 residents, says UHN.
UHN said on Sunday that a total of 17 residents had died in the latest outbreak. Fourteen of them had tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of their death.
At one point during the outbreak, the UHN said, 142 residents and 82 staff members have had COVID-19. Of these, 111 resident cases and 54 staff cases were marked as resolved. The 54 staff members have returned to work.
Improvements underway at home, according to the hospital network
UHN said it was working with Sienna Senior Living to improve staffing, infection prevention and control, education on personal protective equipment, increased cleaning, and building environmental changes.
The hospital network has put in place daily incident management calls and made changes to cleaning, laundry, air handling system and staffing ratios – all of which work to control the spread of the disease. virus.
He said the UHN mobile vaccination team has visited St. George’s home twice since Dec. 31 to vaccinate staff and all residents who do not have COVID-19. To date, a total of 55 staff and 30 residents have been vaccinated.
“Six UHN leaders have brought their expertise and field supervision in a number of areas,” said Dr. Joy Richards, UHN executive officer who works with Sienna Living, in a statement on Sunday.
Krystle Caputo, press secretary to Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, said in an email on Sunday: “We are confident in the ability of the University Health Network to continue to manage and stabilize the community. care of St. George. thank the University Health Network staff, as well as those at home, for working around the clock to help stop the epidemic. ”
Sunday’s rally was hosted by family members of residents of long-term care homes in Ontario.
The Ontario Health Coalition, a network of more than 400 grassroots community organizations, said family groups hold protests every few days in homes in crisis in an effort to get adequate care and protection for their children. relatives.
This is the last rally organized by family groups.
According to data released by the Ontario Ministry of Health, at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday there were 245 long-term care homes in the province with active outbreaks of COVID-19. The number is an increase of 17 since Saturday.