May 14, 2020
Premier of Ontario
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Ford,
On April 16, 2020, I wrote to you requesting that your provincial government use its existing authority in the Long-Term Care Homes Act to take over administrative and operational control of the crisis by putting problematic facilities in trusteeship. Your government chose not to act at that time.
But in the four weeks since that request, three SEIU Healthcare personal support workers (PSWs) contracted COVID-19 and died. And in Ontario, the human death toll is over 1,800, 80% of which were in long-term care.
Yesterday your government announced “new tools” made possible by an emergency order to take over control of failed long-term care facilities. It was said in the government’s press conference, “should we need it, we will use it.”
Premier Ford, we need it. It’s time to use it. And you can start here. Below is a list of homes where our members continue to express a loss of confidence in management:
- Orchard Villa
- Eatonville Care Centre
- Sienna Altamont Care Community
- Downsview LTC Nursing Home
- Sienna Camilla Care Community
- The Village of Humber Heights
Finally, we again urge you to commit to a public inquiry, not a review, now.
I’d like to remind you that the period from the first SARS case in Ontario to the publication of a 230-page SARS Commission Interim Report was a short 15 months. The Honourable Justice Campbell wrote the following in that Interim Report:
The fact that the Commission must address public health renewal on an interim basis is not to say it is more important than any other urgent issue such as the safety and protection of health care workers. It is simply a case of timing. (page 9)
Timing today is again of urgent public safety—as well as the safety of healthcare workers who are disproportionately likely to contract COVID-19 because of poor infectious disease protocols, access to personal protective equipment, and lack of full-time employment—as well because we’re likely to see consecutive waves of the pandemic in the fall/winter of next year.
We can do this if there is a will. And a public inquiry is the only way to give the people of Ontario the trust demanded by a transparent process without the influence of politicians or industry.
I remain available to discuss with you anytime.
The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
The Honourable Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care