Simple ‘Review’ of Long-Term Care an Injustice to Victims of Deadly Crisis: Steelworkers

TORONTO – The Ontario government’s rejection of a public inquiry into the unprecedented, deadly crisis in the province’s long-term care system is an injustice to the victims and their families, the United Steelworkers (USW) union says.

The USW, which represents employees at several long-term care facilities in Ontario, today called on Premier Doug Ford and his government to reconsider their decision and establish a public inquiry.

“Appointing a commission to simply ‘review the long-term care system' is an injustice to the grieving families and to all residents and workers who continue to be affected by this crisis and the failings of a system that has harmed so many, for so long,” USW Ontario Director Marty Warren said in a letter to Ford, delivered today.

“Unlike a public inquiry, the proposed review of the system will remain under the control of the government. Ultimately, the government will be able to exercise control over the facts, information and evidence that will be explored, scrutinized and released to the public,” Warren said.

The magnitude of the tragedy in the long-term care system warrants nothing less than a public inquiry, Warren said in his letter to Ford.

“As you well know Premier, public inquiries have been held into many crises in our province and our country that pale in comparison to the devastating human toll that Ontario’s long-term care crisis has wreaked.

“Premier, how is a public inquiry not justified in light of the unprecedented tragedies that have struck our long-term care system? How is a public inquiry not justified when more than 1,400 residents have died and thousands more residents and workers have been infected with COVID-19?”

In contrast to the government’s proposed review of the long-term care system, “a public inquiry is truly independent of government and protected from any interference or influence of any party,” Warren said.

“Only a public inquiry has the power to compel testimony and the production of documents and other evidence. Critically, a public inquiry allows for the broadest-possible public participation, through a transparent, public process.”

Warren also debunked the government’s assertion that a public inquiry would take too long to find solutions to problems in the long-term care system.

“It is important to dismiss the false narrative that a public inquiry will be too time-consuming in identifying and addressing the failings in the long-term care system. As the Official Opposition has pointed out, a public inquiry can be empowered to recommend immediate action, at any time during the process, to address such issues,” he said in his letter.

“Only a public inquiry will bring meaningful, lasting improvements to the level of care and safety, indeed the very quality of life, that are deserved by all residents in Ontario’s long-term care system,” he added.

“Only a public inquiry will restore the confidence of the people of Ontario in our long-term care system.”

Read District 6 Director Marty Warren’s May 19, 2020, letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford
Read Marty Warren’s May 15, 2020, letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, (416) 243-8792
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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