Attn: Assignment Editor
PICKERING, Ontario and TORONTO, July 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Health Coalition issued an Open Letter to the Ford government’s Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips, today. In summary the Coalition said:
“We are writing today to urgently insist that you extend the deadline for the decision regarding the issuance of a new license and expansion to for-profit long-term care chain corporation Southbridge Care Homes for Orchard Villa long-term care home in Pickering…. We are also asking that you act immediately to correct the criteria your Ministry is using in evaluating this project and in consulting on this license. The way your Ministry is conducting itself does not accord with the Long-Term Care Homes Act…. Section 98 specifically states:
“A person is only eligible to be issued a license for a long-term care home if…;
“We have become increasingly disturbed as we have witnessed the actions of the Ministry of Long-Term Care regarding this license.
In correspondence from your Ministry considering the issuance of the license you have drawn the criteria being considered so narrowly as to exclude the record of the licensee in operating the home, yet the license is for up to 30-years to build and operate the home, and in accordance with the Act, and you are required to consider the operator’s record and the public interest….
In the public consultation your Ministry representative tried to stop Ontarians from asking questions about the record of Southbridge and its ability to operate the home to acceptable standards, in violation of the criteria set out in the LTC Homes Act….
In a press conference on July 15 you stated that licensing was decided by the Ministry and not by you as Minister. That is untrue. You are expressly named as the decision-maker in the Act and it is not acceptable to duck political accountability for your decision.
To us, this creates a picture that the ‘fix is in’; that the criteria and the conduct of the Ministry appear to be designed to exclude what should be the absolute central issue, which is whether it is in the public interest to issue for-profit chain company Southbridge Care Homes a new 30-year license and expansion to operate Orchard Villa and whether the corporation can be entrusted with the care of 320 vulnerable residents given its terrible record not only in that home but across the province. As you know, the for-profit chains had far higher death rates than public and non-profit homes, and among the for-profits Southbridge’s record is the worst.”
“We are calling on you to re-do the public consultation in accordance with the Long-Term Care Homes Act,” said the Coalition citing families and Ontarians who were cut out from the public hearing and further evidence of poor care from recent inspection reports. The Coalition concluded:
“In close, this issue should not even be under consideration. If Southbridge is able to not only get a new license but also an expansion at Orchard Villa where they were supposed to protect the vulnerable residents and care for them and where more than 70 residents died of COVID and others died of dehydration, malnutrition and horrific neglect, what kind of record would be bad enough for a corporation to be denied a license in Ontario? At the very least, you as Minister must be honest with the public about your duty under the law which requires you to decide what licenses are issued and that you consider the public interest, and that your Ministry consider the record of the licensee. At the very least you must allow those people who were cut off and cut out in the public consultation to be heard.”
The Coalition in partnership with the Families of Orchard Villa held a press conference this morning. The livestream is available here.
For more information: Natalie Mehra Executive Director (416) 230-6402.