Canada Throws the Elderly Under the Bus in Its Wuhan Virus Response
According to Joseph Brean of the National Post, seniors in long term care have been the most impacted by the Wuhan virus pandemic.
Canadian armed forces have been deployed to cope with the situations and are being used to keep what Ontario Premier Doug Ford described as an “iron ring” around long-term care homes.
MSN noted that:
Provincial laws have been drawn up to staff long term care homes with more casual labour with lower training requirements, and to loosen the complaint reporting requirements on private management. There are political noises about long term fixes, and major disagreements are being staked out on the role of private providers. What those reforms look like, if they ever come, will say a lot about how Canada regards its seniors.
Canada’s first recorded death from the pandemic took place on March 8, when a man in his 80s died at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.
Brean highlighted how the site was an issue of concern:
Briefly, that site was the focus of the public concern, until new focal points emerged — the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., the Résidence Herron in Dorval, Que. — until they all became single stars in a countrywide constellation of seniors home outbreaks, many of them completely overrun by infections, people dying in some cases faster than their bodies could be removed.
Quebec summoned more than 1,000 military medical personnel which included nurses and paramedics. Ontario sent a smaller number, buttressed by support troops, which Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan stated was “not a typical Canadian Armed Forces operation.”
Brean detailed some of what the elderly have had to experience in the current pandemic:
Rather, through nothing more than their own age and infirmity, they are forced to endure the greatest exposure to the coronavirus risk, to live communally with other victims, surrounded by cinderblock walls, attended to by overwhelmed staff who turn to overwhelmed private management for support, and do not always get it, as new litigation has revealed.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered to “help the provinces find lasting solutions” to these “serious, underlying challenges.”
“COVID-19 has exposed some uncomfortable truths about our society, including how we care for seniors in Canada,” Trudeau stated this week. “We’ve seen heartbreaking tragedies in long term care facilities and nursing homes right across the country. Overworked staff, understaffed residences, grieving families.”
Jagmeet Singh, the leader of New Democratic Party leader, told CTV’s Question Period that Canada should stop the private provision of long term care and instead subject all of it to new federal regulation.
“I think we need to end them, I think there’s no question about it given the results we’re seeing, the evidence we’re seeing that some of the worst conditions that seniors are in and some of the highest deaths have happened in the for-profit long term care homes,” Singh stated.
For Singh, the pandemic response in Canada has been too decentralized in nature, namely, how certain issues such as health care and education are federally funded but are handled by provinces.
Some of the problems in Canada’s pandemic response were “architectural”in Brean’s view:
The problems are not just systemic, they are also architectural. Radio-Canada reported this week that the Vigi Mont-Royal home in Montreal was completely infected, with every single resident and 148 workers testing positive, according to an internal document, which noted a ventilation system was faulty and need to be cleaned and repaired.
One long term care home in Niagara Falls was slapped with a class action lawsuit over how it handled an outbreak that killed 18 residents, for its alleged failure to train staff to implement proper safety procedures.
Brean illustrated other cases of care homes dropping the ball in their virus containment tactics:
There is a similar dispute by registered nurses working at four privately owned long term care homes in Ontario, who allege management failed to provide personal protective equipment and failed to launch pre-existing pandemic plans, resulting in widespread exposure of uninfected people to symptomatic patients who had not yet formally tested positive. In some cases, staff were allegedly forced to care for patients who were confirmed positive wearing only surgical masks.