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Ian Arthur, MPP Kingston and the Islands

Government of Ontario

Question Period: Long-Term Care

Published on November 17, 2020

Mr. Ian Arthur: My question is to the Minister of Long-Term Care. As cases rise once again, for-profit long-term-care facilities are once again failing the people of Ontario. Data shows that in homes experiencing an outbreak, for-profit homes have seen nearly 10 times the number of fatal cases per bed than not-for-profit homes—but still this government is refusing to crack down. And yesterday, with the passing of Bill 218, they’ve made it harder for families to hold LTC facilities to account.

Speaker, a chief investment officer for Chartwell, a for-profit LTC chaired by former Premier Mike Harris, suggested that lawsuits from the loss of human life were—listen carefully—“frivolous,” and assured shareholders that the legislation “mitigates the risk” and makes the threshold for proving damages “very high.”

Why is the government trying to protect the profits of private LTCs instead of standing with the Ontarians who lost their loved ones during a pandemic?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond? The parliamentary assistant, the member for Durham.

Ms. Lindsey Park: Let me be absolutely clear: Individuals and organizations that ignore public health guidance and act with gross negligence or intentional misconduct will not be protected by this legislation. The narrow, targeted civil liability protection in this legislation has only to do with the inadvertent transmission of COVID-19 and nothing else. This legislation does not protect any other type of negligence that we heard from the opposition previously or at committee, like if a resident is not given proper medication, or if a long-term-care provider fails to provide the necessities of life, or if a long-term care provider fails to communicate adequately to the families. Ontarians will continue to be able to file claims and seek justice in the court for all of these matters.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Back to the member: They said it “mitigates the risk.” They’re no longer worried because of that legislation. So no matter what the member opposite is claiming, the people at these companies are very, very pleased with that legislation. They are very happy that they won’t be on the hook for what they did.

But now to my question. Since the beginning of this, it’s been about families who have lost loved ones—families such as Terri Daniels’s, who lives in my riding, whose father tragically passed away. I have heard an absence of comments or compassion from the members opposite for those who have lost their loved ones during this pandemic.

On Twitter and in the press, several reporters, including Mike Crawley, have criticized the Minister of Health for updates not having death tolls included in them. I decided to go back and look to see when the last time the minister had that number in her daily updates. I couldn’t find any tweets from before June 6.

I’m wondering where these tweets have gone and when the minister will actually begin giving—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply? The Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: In fact, this information is readily available to all Ontarians on the daily updates that they can see on our coronavirus site. With respect to tweets, I think it’s important to be respectful to the many families who have lost family members. This isn’t something that one should be tweeting about. This is very serious. It’s very tragic for these families. However, the information is available in another location.