Toronto – A public inquiry looking into the murders of eight long-term care residents committed by Elizabeth Wettlaufer must include a close examination of the underlying causes of violence inside these facilities, says the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
“While we welcome the appointment of Justice Eileen Gillese as chair of the inquiry, and as horrific as the crimes committed by Wettlaufer were, I would urge her to broaden the scope of the investigation to include issues such as severe understaffing, minimum standards, safety issues, and the impacts of a rapidly aging population that will exert even greater pressures on a long-term care system in Ontario that is already in shambles.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that, beyond the eight murders, there have been 25 homicides committed by residents inside long-term care facilities in just the past four years. Our province faces a crisis in long-term care as more and more facilities come under the ownership of a small handful of major, private-sector corporations. The families impacted by these murders and all homicides in long-term care homes deserve answers. The public deserves to learn whether this rash of senseless deaths is the result of deeper, systemic factors.”
Thomas also drew attention to the deadline – July 2019 – the inquiry faces.
“My fear is that by extending the inquiry’s deadline to July 2019, the government conveniently dodges responsibility it may hold for the crisis in long-term care in time for the June 2018 provincial election. Long-term care in Ontario must be a priority issue in the next campaign,” he said.
OPSEU represents more than 5,000 workers in long-term care facilities and retirement homes across Ontario. Many members have spoken in the past to legislative committees about conditions inside the long-term care industry. He said OPSEU would welcome the opportunity to appear before the Wettlaufer inquiry.
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931