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Ford tries to blame unions for LTC scandal

John Bell

May 30, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is under intense fire for the unnecessary deaths in Ontario’s Long Term Care facilities. He is trying to deflect blame on to unionized inspectors.

But a leaked memo from management at the Ministry for Long Term Care, dated March 27, ordered inspectors to stand down. The memo said, in part: "...our work and the role we will play moving forward is not going to be one of compliance and enforcement for the time being."

This is typical of Ford's pandemic management strategy: make grand, emotional statements designed to  endear him to voters, masking his plans to scapegoat workers and defend private health care.  We can’t let him get away with his disgusting “straw man” diversion.

Investigative journalist Nora Loreto has done exceptional work tracking the death rate across Canada in LTC and other care institutions. As of writing, according to her figures, 86.3% of COVID-19 fatalities occurred in such facilities. That is 5841 out of 6765 reported deaths.

The bulk of these deaths have occurred in Quebec and Ontario. Both jurisdictions have long been governed by austerity-minded provincial governments that have overseen the massive growth of for-profit LTC businesses.

In Ontario successive Tory and Liberal governments have undermined labour standards and delivered the deregulation that LTC industry lobbyists have asked for. In 2016 then Premier Kathleen Wynne broke an election promise, and cut back LTC inspections from annually to once every 3 years. At the same time they mandated that what inspections that were done could no longer evaluate issues of security, staffing levels, and – crucially in the present circumstances – emergency planning.

All these changes were sought by the industry, and allowed them to boost their profits.

But even these weakened regulations were too much for Doug Ford and his big business friends. Appointment of MPP Dr. Merrilee Fullerton to the position of Minister of Long Term Care in 2019 was a tip off. She has long been a vocal advocate for privatized healthcare. She also dropped some racist, Islamophobic social media comments which endeared her to the Tory faithful.

Fullerton also tweeted that private healthcare was “necessary” and that Canada’s healthcare system compared only to North Korea.

These are the characters trying to blame inspectors from shirking their duties. These are the liars who say they weep and lose sleep when they read the damning reports of neglect from the Canadian Forces personnel called in to support LTC homes.

They caused and abetted the social murder of thousands of seniors. Don’t let them dodge the bullet. It should be aimed straight at them.

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