A Canadian military report released earlier this week makes note of disgusting and deplorable conditions at five long-term care homes in Ontario. Cockroach infestations, neglect of residents, subpar infection control practices – even reports of residents being force-fed or outright physically abused. Hard to believe this is happening in Canada in 2020.
But while horrific, is it truly surprising?
Indeed, I’m experiencing déjà vu all over again. Pick a decade, any decade, and you will come across a report or an inquiry or an investigative news feature highlighting the horrors of certain long-term care facilities. Par for the course, the government officials react with shock and outrage and then promise to do better… but after the 24-hour news cycle, this SNAFU is quickly forgotten.
Indeed, this is not a Wuhan virus story. This has been the situation for far too long. All the Wuhan pandemic did was accelerate an already ghastly situation thanks to the death toll in long term care homes. In fact, a staggering 82 per cent of the deaths in Ontario due to the Wuhan virus have occurred at retirement homes.
But as much as there is there is incompetence by the regulators and downright malfeasance by members of government of all political stripes, many of these facilities just don’t seem to give a damn. One thing I learned while covering the retirement homes situation these past few months is that there is almost no transparency by those running these facilities (i.e., Pinecrest Retirement Home in Bobcaygeon, where 29 residents and one visitor has died of the Wuhan virus). The staff there actually called the police on me for having the temerity to… ask questions?
And then there is the awful situation at Anson Place in Hagersville, where at least 27 residents have died due to the Wuhan virus. What brought me there was that a Good Samaritan, James Bradbury offered to donate – for free – PPE that was, according to Anson Place staff, desperately needed. But his offer was refused and allegedly one of the reasons was due to the fact that his PPE was NOT made in China. That’s right – the epicentre of this disease and the country that is notorious for manufacturing tons and tons of substandard PPE.
Bottom line: based on my dealings with Pinecrest and Anson Place, I’m not surprised by the findings of the Canadian Armed Forces. Yet, why did it take the military to uncover this in the first place?