Media Statement: Lack of oversight by the Ford government failed residents living in nursing homes, notes Ontario Nurses’ Association

September 8, 2023

September 7, 2023 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) supports the full implementation of the Ombudsman’s recommendations to ensure that long-term care inspectors are given the proper and in-depth training, tools and PPE to carry out their jobs in helping to protect residents.

“Complete chaos and catastrophe plagued our residents in long-term care during the most challenging health-care crisis of this century. The Ombudsman’s report clearly outlines that the Ford government failed residents when they needed protection the most. The lack of oversight by the Ontario government in the first seven weeks of the pandemic in long-term care is hauntingly tragic,” notes ONA President Erin Ariss, RN. “It was during this initial pivotal time at the start of COVID-19 that inspectors should have been given clear direction from the Ministry to thoroughly inspect long-term care homes.”

As early as February 14, 2020, ONA wrote to the Ministries of Labour, Health and Long-Term Care demanding the Ministries undertake proactive inspections within health-care facilities to be ready for the virus. The government did not listen to ONA.

“We alerted the Ford government many times about the dire need for inspectors to enter health-care workplaces and conduct thorough inspections including availability of proper PPE, infection prevention and control protocols, and so much more. We were ignored.

“The Ford government must finally learn from its many mistakes and take effective action, especially in for-profit nursing homes. Profit must never trump the health and safety of residents and the staff who care for them,” says Ariss.

ONA is hopeful that the Ombudsman’s report will spur much-needed changes and improvements to the Ministry’s inspection system. It will take action from the Ford government, not assurances.

ONA is the union representing 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the community, clinics and industry.