July 8th, 2020

Lindo: Seniors need an advocate to fight in their corner

NDP MPP tables legislation to establish an independent Seniors’ Advocate for Ontario

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) has tabled a new private member’s bill to establish a Seniors’ Advocate for Ontario for the very first time, to be an independent voice for seniors and family members of seniors who act as caregivers.

“Seniors deserved a circle of care during this pandemic. What they received was far less. COVID-19 exposed a gaping wound in the senior sector. Our call for a Seniors’ Advocate will help ensure that this never happens again. They deserve so much better than this,“ said Lindo.

“Now is the time to finally give seniors a direct line to government with a strong voice to fight for them and stand up for their needs. It's past time for Ontario’s seniors to have an independent, non-partisan advocate in their corner.”

Over 2,600 lives have already been lost to COVID-19 in Ontario. 96 per cent of those deaths have been Ontarians aged 60 and over.

“In my own community of Kitchener, it took 51 deaths at Forest Heights long-term care home before the government belatedly decided to implement a temporary restructuring under St. Mary’s Hospital. Successive governments have ignored to the broken system of care for seniors. It should never have taken a pandemic for PSWs, nurses, caregivers, and family members to finally be heard. Their repeated cries for help can no longer be ignored by the Ford government,” said Lindo.

The Seniors’ Advocate will be an independent officer of the Ontario legislature with the power and responsibility to safeguard the interests of seniors, their caregivers and their families, and to ensure their voices are not only heard but acted upon. The Seniors’ Advocate will also identify and analyze systemic challenges faced by seniors, and make recommendations to government on improving the welfare of seniors.

“Seniors deserve love, respect and dignity. They deserve a province that promotes their quality of life as they age. The atrocities experienced by seniors across Ontario have been hidden for far too long. Just saying ‘never again’ is simply not good enough. We need a Seniors’ Advocate with a mandate to be their voice, to act in their interests, and to shine a spotlight on their needs.”


Ruth Pryce, President of Unifor Local 1106

“We know for a fact that if nursing homes were properly staffed, especially with personal support workers, we would have been in a much better position to weather this pandemic. Last year, before the pandemic, Unifor and the Ontario Health Coalition raised the alarm over chronic short staffing and PSWs leaving the workforce en masse. The Seniors’ Advocate will perform a critical role to advise ministers and public officials, and to develop policies and practices to address the fundamental systemic challenges affecting seniors, caregivers and families.”

Jim Stewart, Co-Chair, Waterloo Region Health Coalition

“Today, both during the pandemic and prior to the pandemic, the workforce in long term care and home care has become destabilized. Even before COVID-19, every shift in long term care facilities in the Waterloo region was understaffed. This creates a profound challenge in delivering care, adds to burn out and increases the PSW to resident ratio. The Waterloo Region Health Coalition fully endorses a Seniors’ Advocate that can ensure that a Standard of Care of 4.1 hours provided to each patient every day is adopted and that a stabilization of the workforce in long term care and home care is achieved. This will profoundly improve the quality of care for our seniors.”

Jane Meadus, Institutional Advocate, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly

“Seniors in Ontario encounter many systemic issues in their daily lives, whether it is an inability to access a program or a complex process not designed for seniors who may not have access to computers, as well as a whole host of issues related to health care including barriers to access. The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly supports the appointment of a Seniors’ Advocate who would be independent, report to the legislature, and who would be able to assist Ontario’s seniors in breaking down these barriers and help them to live their lives to the fullest.”

Maria Duckett, daughter of a resident at Forest Heights Long Term Care Home in Kitchener

“After Forest Heights went into outbreak, our family decided it was the safest for the health of my mother to take her out of the home. After being passed around different staff members for days, I was told that due to the “21 day rule”, if she was out of the home for over 21 days she would automatically lose her bed.

I don’t understand why there was no exception to the rule during a pandemic particularly as new residents were not admitted during the outbreak. I was in despair with no one to turn to. Only after contacting Laura Mae Lindo’s office, did Forest Heights finally agree that once the outbreak was over, my mom would have first rights to return to the home. My mom was forced to remain in the facility for an additional week during the outbreak until I was able to get her home with us. She was not well when she returned home and tested positive for COVID-19. My mom passed away surrounded by her family.

Although I was fortunate to have assistance from my local MPP, having somewhere to call at the beginning of this process would have been ideal. It would have saved a lot of time and anxiety, and could have allowed us to get my mom home sooner and avoid her being exposed to the virus that led to her death.”