BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Winter 2020
When profit takes priority, the result for seniors can be deadly
BC FORUM calls on the federal government to take immediate action
In early November, BC FORUM President Diane Wood wrote Prime Minister Trudeau, with copies to all federal parties, demanding action on the staggering COVID- 19 death toll in Canada’s long term care homes.
“Prime Minister, we need you to show leadership,” she wrote.
“You can act now to bring longterm care fully into the public system and regulate it under the Canada Health Act. You can remove profit from the system and ensure the delivery of care is based on the needs of residents, not shareholders.”
At deadline, we had not yet received a response from Mr. Trudeau. We did receive a response from the federal NDP.
Revera is one of the worst. It’s owned by the federal government.
During the first wave of the pandemic, over 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Canada happened in long-term care – one of the highest proportions of death in long-term care in the world. And in for-profit homes, the situation is much worse. Now over 10,000 Canadians have lost their lives to COVID-19,” wrote Peter Julian, NDP House Leader and MP for New Westminster – Burnaby.
Pointing out that the Liberals have maintained the health care cuts imposed by Stephen Harper, Julian said, “Long-term care facilities did not have the resources they needed during the first wave of COVID- 19 and lives were lost. This federal government needs to make sure that long-term care facilities get the money they need to take care of our seniors.”
Long term care must be reformed to save lives
In his response to BC FORUM, Julian continued:
“With COVID-19 infections continuing to grow across the country, we believe that long-term care in Canada must be reformed.
“Long-term care homes run by Revera are for-profit and owned by the federal government. These homes have become ground zero for the spread of COVID-19. Since the spring, Revera homes across Canada have been ravaged by the virus and have had some of the worst active outbreaks. Parkview Place, a Revera home in Winnipeg, is currently reeling from an outbreak that has so far claimed the lives of 19 residents, with dozens more infected.
“Their disregard for seniors and other residents, including persons with disabilities, during the pandemic is a national tragedy. Workers’ and residents’ lives are on the line and families are terrified to lose their loved ones....
“The federal NDP has been calling on the Trudeau government to take immediate action so that our seniors in these facilities can receive a dignified and proper standard of living and of care.
“We want the federal government to end profit-driven care that hurts our seniors and for our loved ones in long-term care to be safe.
“The federal government needs to take control of long-term care operator Revera – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, a federal Crown Corporation – by replacing its Board of Directors, scrapping all profit-driven care motive from federally owned long-term care homes and bringing Revera into public ownership.
“The federal government needs to play a leadership role by increasing transfers to provinces for long-term care, ensuring more supports for public care centres, and developing national care standards for home care and long-term care.
“The proposals put forward by Canada’s New Democrats are tangible actions the federal government can take immediately to help protect the welfare of seniors and retirees.
“The Prime Minister must commit to protecting people in homes owned by his government. This is not about jurisdiction, it’s about responsibility. This is absolutely within the control of the federal government to fix this,” wrote Julian. (Emphasis added)
Quick facts about Revera
• Revera Inc. operates more than 500 properties in Canada, the UK and the US;18 are in B.C.
• It is owned by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, a federal crown corporation.
• For-profit care homes operated by Revera have been the sites of massive COVID-19 outbreaks involving hundreds of residents and staff. At least 50 have died in two Winnipeg homes.
• In January 2019, long before the pandemic, Revera was facing 85 lawsuits in Canada for neglect contributing to deaths of residents.