June 15th, 2020

Horwath calls for licences to be taken away from Rosslyn owners

HAMILTON – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is demanding Doug Ford take urgent action to revoke the operating licences for all eight of the retirement homes owned by the group responsible for Rosslyn Retirement Residence, and prevent them from ever being able to operate or own any kind of congregate living facility again.

“The Rosslyn Retirement Residence is a house of horrors, not a home. Seniors have been forced to live in squalid conditions surrounded by bed bug infestations, mouse droppings and mould. We saw harrowing evidence of extreme neglect and suffering, even before COVID-19 hit,” said Horwath. “I’m calling on the province to remove all licences this ownership group holds, and to ensure they never again are allowed to operate any kind of congregate living home where vulnerable people can be neglected and hurt.”

At least 14 seniors at the privately-owned Rosslyn Retirement Residence have died of COVID-19, with 63 residents and 20 staff infected with the virus. The facility was evacuated by paramedics in May, sending all residents to hospital.

The Martino families that own Rosslyn are also associated with seven other retirement homes still being allowed to operate in Hamilton. Four of them were hit with new orders to comply after inspections revealed problems in May. The Martinos owned the Royal Crest Lifecare chain of care homes until it collapsed into bankruptcy in 2003, leaving Ontario taxpayers on the hook for $18 million.

“The warning signs were there and they were ignored. For years now, families have reported multiple violations and substandard care at the residences owned by this group,” said Horwath.

“This must never, ever happen again. No senior should ever again have to live in a facility that puts their health, safety and wellbeing at risk. Doug Ford must pull the licences right now before these owners can inflict more pain and suffering, and have the province or a non-for-profit take over these homes.”

The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) is responsible for protecting seniors and keeping them safe from rogue operators, but Horwath says the RHRA has been toothless. Despite issuing orders to comply with regulations, nothing was done to enforce these orders or to revoke the licences, even when seniors have been exposed to inhumane conditions. That’s why Horwath said the RHRA needs to be dismantled, and replaced with a new independent regulatory regime with real enforcement powers and a clear mandate to protect seniors.