Anyone who makes an informed personal medical choice that differs from the regimes mandate is punished. That punishment looks like forced isolation and separation from loved ones under the guise of policies that are overreaching, unethical and heavy-handed.
In December 2021, the Government of Ontario issued Directive 3. It outlined the various policies around long-term care (LTC) and retirement homes, including universal masking, testing, for visitors, as well as requiring vaccine passports.
By forcing compliance with the Ministry of Long-Term Care COVID-19 Guidance Document, it stipulates that “visitors must meet the vaccine requirement as per the Minister’s Directive.”
Under that directive, “An unvaccinated general visitor or caregiver is only permitted to enter the home for palliative or end of life care.”
Exemptions are fundamentally non-existent.
Those directives have had a profound impact on Jordy Hough, who has been unable to visit with his mother or assess her living conditions at the McCormick Care Group home since the end of December 2021.
Jordy serves as both his mother’s power of attorney (POA) and essential caregiver.
Previously, he would visit her six or seven days a week and provide her with daily care — cognitively, emotionally and physically. Jordy is concerned that his duty of care as acting POA is being obstructed by the care home and its administrators.
Jordy highlights the blessing that essential caregivers give to an already overburdened, understaffed health-care sector.
Referring to it as a “bolster to the care home staff,” outside care is a clear asset not only to the elderly loved one with dementia who is comforted by familiarity, but to the other staff who can prioritize care for others who may not have hands on loved ones.
I reached out to the care home asking if they had sought independent legal advice for guidance on the appropriateness of their measures.
I asked if Directive 3 and the guidance document align with the legal duty that a power of attorney has to their grantor — Jordy to his mom — if they cannot gain access to their grantor or residence? And, what reasonable alternatives are given to those with POA who don’t want to divulge their medical information or are religiously or medical exempt from vaccination?
The home didn’t respond.
I had also sent the two latter questions to Vanessa DeMatteis, senior communications director for the Ministry of Long-term Care.
Someone named Ann responded to my request, regurgitating the points in all of the documents I had already sifted through, only veering from the talking points by stating that “the POA should seek independent legal advice.”
Even though it’s their directive that prevents Jordy from performing his duties.
As of March 1, Ontario is officially doing away with vaccine passports but the mandate will still be in place for visitors in LTC.