Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB - The Manitoba Liberal Caucus released a report detailing 40+ years of warnings and reports of neglect by Manitoba Governments of the conditions in personal care homes they say contributed to the appalling Covid-19 death toll in personal care homes across the province.
Of all OECD countries, Canada's death rate in personal care homes is by far the worst. Manitoba's per capita mortality rate is the second worst in the country.
Manitoba Liberals say that Canada's appalling PCH morality rate is directly connected to Canada having one of the highest numbers of seniors living in institutions in the world.
The report details a series of grim concerns: the abuse of anti-psychotic medications as "chemical restraints" and homes that don't give residents enough food or water. Deaths and injuries in care homes are rarely investigated and almost never result in charges.
"The PC government's response to the second wave was a disaster, but it is a disaster that happened because for decades, NDP and PC governments alike ignored red flags, pleas and horror stories." said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface. "This report shows why Manitoba desperately needs an independent Seniors' Advocate and a new model for caring for seniors in our province."
In August 2020, long-term care facilities were pleading with the Pallister PCs to provide funding to help pay for Covid measures. Shared Health and the Manitoba Government had ordered facilities to comply, but provided no new funding to do so.
Long term care facilities made it clear that the PCs' two years of cuts followed on more than a decade or more of frozen funding from PC and NDP governments alike.
The report details complaints about inadequate inspections, bad food and dangerous conditions going back 40 years in Manitoba.
1980 - "All but one of Winnipeg's 23 group homes for the elderly fall short of provincial standards and are operating without licenses, says a Community Services Department spokesperson."
1993 - "Residents of privately run care homes run significantly higher risks of having conditions that indicate a low quality of care that those in non-profit facilities... A study by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy says that between 1987 and 1991, patients in privately run facilities were 20 per cent more likely to have falls, fractures and pneumonia and nearly 40 per cent as likely to be dehydrated."
1995 - Manitoba PCHs have no obligation to report incidents of abuse
1999 - Care Home staffing "woefully inadequate"
2000 - NDP rejects calls for increased staffing
2006 - Manitoba Nurses' Union says LTC standards are not consistent and many do not meet the minimum level of care
2015 - Existing infrastructure in nearly half of Winnipeg's 39 PCH were in "poor condition"
2016 - Pallister government limits reporting of Protections of Persons in Care (PPCO)
2019 - MARCHE report states capital equipment funding had not increased for 25 years.
Manitoba Liberals have been calling for action for seniors throughout that time. Since 2016, Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Tyndall Park and Manitoba Liberal Seniors' Critic, has been calling for the creation of a Seniors' Advocate modelled on a similar position in British Columbia. It was part of the 2019 Manitoba Liberal platform.
In 2019, when Manitoba Liberal Health Critic Dr. Jon Gerrard quoted a relative of a care home resident saying "It was easier to watch my dad die in a personal care home than to watch him live in a personal care home." When the then-Health Minister Cameron Friesen suggested that Gerrard was insulting staff and should apologize, Gerrard's reply "You're the one who should apologize." Gerrard was called out by the speaker, and ejected from the legislature for the first time in his 20 years as MLA.
"The pandemic has shown just how rotten many of our systems are, and we have a moral obligation to learn from this human tragedy and change how we care for seniors, now and into the future," said Lamont. "We can afford to do the right thing, and it's past due time we did."
You can view the full report here: https://www.mbliberalcaucus.ca/wcm-docs/docs/mb_lib_seniors_advocate_report.pdf