June 5th, 2020

NDP calls on Ford government to take over direct management of Sienna homes

For-profit long-term care provider owns more of Ontario’s 30 deadliest facilities than anyone else

QUEEN’S PARK — Following reports of disturbing, telling remarks from a senior executive, and data showing Sienna’s long-term care homes have had some of Ontario’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care, the Official Opposition New Democrats are calling on the Ford government to take over direct management of Sienna’s facilities.

Sienna is a large for-profit corporation that owns and runs 37 long-term care homes in Ontario. Ultimately, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the Official Opposition say long-term care needs to be overhauled to be put into the public and non-profit sectors, not left to privatized for-profit interests.

Media reports indicate that after a virtual town hall ended Wednesday, Sienna’s executive vice-president of operations was caught on audio mocking family members who had raised concerns. Rather than being sympathetic to concerns like inadequate personal protective equipment, the executive’s reported comments include, “here comes another blood-sucking lawsuit.”

“These comments are cold-hearted and shocking,” said Horwath. “Families who have loved ones in long-term care homes were already worried sick. After hearing the attitude at the most senior levels of this corporation, how could people possibly trust that Sienna is doing everything possible to keep their parents or their grandparents safe? How could the government say that? Sienna obviously has a culture at the senior levels that doesn’t value its residents, their families and their workers.”

According to a report from Queen’s Park Briefing, as well as figures compiled by the NDP, Sienna owns five of Ontario’s 30 deadliest long-term care homes still in an active COVID-19 outbreak, the 30 of which account for more than 1,000 deaths alone. That’s more deadly homes than any other operator on the list. To date, only two Sienna homes have been taken over by the Ford government, but 13 of its 37 homes in Ontario are currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

“Doug Ford can’t keeping waiting for things to get worse,” said Horwath.

Sienna homes have also been subject to allegations of abuse of its residents. Those allegations have been referred to the Peel Police.