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OPSEU/SEFPO calls for OPP investigation into deaths at private long-term care homes

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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is urging Premier Doug Ford to call on the OPP to investigate an inordinate and unacceptable number of deaths in provincial, private-for-profit long-term care homes, including the 29 COVID-19 deaths that recently occurred at Kennedy Lodge in east Toronto.

“Maybe it will take someone going to jail to end this carnage,” said Thomas. “We know what’s needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. We know the safety equipment that’s required. And we know the safety measures, including appropriate PPE, that must be in place.

“Why are so many people in some of our long-term care homes continuing to die? At a time on the calendar when we commemorate those who protected this country, we must also acknowledge those who built it. It is often the same people.”

COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly across the province, but the outbreaks in private, as opposed to publicly operated, long-term care homes have been the deadliest by far. According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the virus has now killed 110 long-term care residents over the past two weeks.

Along with the 29 deaths at Kennedy Lodge in Scarborough, at least nine residents of Ottawa’s West End Villa have died during this second wave.

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says there are serious questions that must be answered about long-term care, and why residents continue to die in such high numbers.

“When our hospitals were cleared in the spring to deal with the first wave, were some of those patients sent to long-term care homes only to get sick and die?” asked Almeida. “What was hospital capacity in the spring? Why isn’t hospital capacity being addressed now?”

Thomas said the families of the victims need justice, and all Ontarians need assurance that urgent steps are being taken to prevent any more deaths.

“Enough is enough,” said Thomas. “Perhaps the Premier isn’t being told the truth about why all these deaths are happening, and what has to be done to stop them.

“The truth needs to come out. Someone has to be held to account.”

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