Public health experts called for urgent action on Saturday in the wake of a devastating assessment of Ontario’s long-term care sector, saying they hope the province learns and retains key lessons from its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their reflections came hours after an independent commission released a scathing report on Ontario’s pandemic response in long-term care homes, where the bulk of virus-related deaths took place during the pandemic’s first wave.
The blistering, 322-page document called for an overhaul of the sector, saying the province was ill-prepared to face COVID-19 despite lessons it should have learned from the SARS epidemic.
Nearly 4,000 long-term care residents and 11 staff have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit.
Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician and health justice activist in Toronto, said those numbers don’t reflect “the immense distress and grief” many caregivers and families across the province are feeling.
“This report does give some insight into how we got here, (but) it does not represent justice to the full extent. And for many caregivers, it will not be,” Dosani said.
“No one will ever forget what happened. These are scars that will last forever.”
Friday night’s report to the Ontario government said the province’s long-term care sector needs sweeping reforms to protect its vulnerable residents.