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To Prevent Further Elder Abuse in Seniors Homes, PCs must Ensure Protection for Whistleblowers

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals are calling on the province to immediately review the licence at Oakview Place after the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Extendicare admitted that policies and protocols weren't followed.

The Liberals say the PCs also need to immediately implement whistleblower protection to ensure others are able to come forward with concerns without fearing for reprisal.

Fifteen residents are alleged to have been targeted by staff for abuse. A whistleblower complaint was ignored until a second one was made at the WRHA. Both the health authority and Extendicare admitted policies and procedures weren't followed.

"We need to call this what it is - corruption and a cover-up of elder abuse, and it shouldn't be tolerated," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "We expect the government to invite people to come forward with what they know, and provide them with assurances they won't face retaliation or blacklisting for having the courage to call out wrongdoing."

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont stood with two families whose relatives were among the fifteen individuals identified in the allegations of abuse at Oakview Place.

"The timeline for when Extendicare found out about the allegations to when the WRHA was notified and action was finally taken is completely unacceptable," said Gail Johnson, whose relative was one of the fifteen notified about potential abuse at the care home. "Extendicare must be held accountable as importantly as the perpetrators of the alleged assaults to ensure these situations are never repeated."

Liberals say it is clear there were serious gaps in seniors' care since well before the pandemic, but these issues were exacerbated as staff shortages and lack of proper funding continued throughout. Their calls for a non-partisan Seniors' advocate since 2016 have been ignored.

"Seniors' homes have been plagued for years by short-staffing, inadequate investments, and what is worst of all, a culture of neglect on the part of government that is a betrayal of residents, their families and the public trust. This is not going to get better with a Band-Aid, we need to get to the bottom of what happened to make sure seniors are protected and can live in dignity," said Lamont.

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