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Broaden Wettlaufer inquiry: Thomas

It's my nature to Care: Long Term Care

Toronto – Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), is applauding an NDP motion passed September 14 in the Ontario legislature that calls on the government to broaden the Wettlaufer inquiry to include understaffing, underfunding, and other systemic issues in long-term care.

“Over a month ago, I asked the government to include a close examination of the underlying causes of violence in long-term care facilities in the inquiry. I pointed out that severe understaffing, minimum standards, safety issues, and the impacts of a rapidly aging population were putting increasing pressure on our long-term care system – one that is already dysfunctional.

“I’m very pleased that Andrea Horwath and the Ontario New Democrats agree that the inquiry must be broadened to take a holistic look at long-term care in the province,” Thomas continued. “Now that the NDP’s motion has passed, it’s time to begin consulting experts, residents, and their families in every corner of Ontario.”

Thomas emphasized that justice for Wettlaufer’s victims and answers for their families must remain a priority. He said the government also had a duty to investigate the systemic issues and address them meaningfully.

“The Liberals have relentlessly pursued a policy of austerity and privatization,” said Thomas. “They have severely compromised the quality of care and the security of residents in order to enrich private interests. And, I’m very sorry to say, the consequences of austerity can be as bad as loss of life. In the last four years, there have been 25 homicides in long-term care facilities.

The OPSEU President also called on the Liberals to modify the timelines, as well as the scope, of the inquiry.

“If this goes on until July 2019, as currently planned, then the results won’t be published till after next year’s election. This government would avoid having to explain the dire state of the long-term care system to Ontarians, and they could sit on the report for three years until the following election in 2022.

“The people of Ontario simply can’t wait that long for accountability and action.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931