May 19th, 2020

Horwath forces a vote on launching a full, independent public inquiry into Ontario’s long-term care system

QUEEN’S PARK – On Tuesday afternoon, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario will vote on whether to hold a thorough, non-partisan, independent public inquiry — under The Public Inquiries Act — sparked by a motion by NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.

Since the pandemic began, more than 4,400 residents and staff at Ontario long term care homes have contracted COVID-19, with over 1,400 deaths to date, and more infections and deaths expected.

“The Ford government is digging in their heels by insisting they’ll hold a government-controlled commission instead of a public inquiry,” said Horwath. “A government-controlled commission is just a review —a back-room process that won’t give long-term care residents and their families, seniors entering care, and loved ones of COVID-19 victims the voice they deserve, the respect they deserve, or the major overhaul to long-term care that all long-term care residents need and deserve.”

A public inquiry is an official and independent process set out by law in The Public Inquiries Act. A government-controlled commission is an internal review.

Ford last used a government commission to have Gordon Campbell, former premier of British Columbia, help justify Ford’s spending cuts.

Public inquiries in Ontario have included: Ipperwash (1 dead), Walkerton (6 dead), Wettlaufer (8 dead), and SARS (44 dead).

“This public inquiry needs to be a find-and-fix inquiry — one that’s empowered to get immediate action at any time during the process to fix those things we all know are wrong in nursing homes — from the lack of nutritious meals to the lack of staff on every shift and the incredibly low pay for personal support workers and other long-term care staff,” said Horwath.

The legislative vote is expected prior to 5 p.m.