In Ontario, health experts and medical malpractice lawyers generally know where the majority of COVID-19 fatalities have occurred: the province’s nursing homes. But as a degree of stability has returned to the province, it’s become clear that not all nursing homes were affected equally.

According to new analysis, reported on by The Globe and Mail in August, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities occurred at just 36 of the province’s 633 homes. Twenty-nine of those homes are operated by for-profit ‘nursing home chains,’ including Chartwell Retirement Residences, against whom Neinstein’s personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers have launched a class action lawsuit. Other notable operators include Extendicare Canada, Sienna Senior Living, Revera, Rykka Care Centres, and Southbridge Care Homes.

As The Globe’s reporting makes clear, many of the worst-affected homes share common features like ward-style sleeping quarters and bathrooms shared by multiple residents. Both features go against provincial design standards and have been systematically phased out elsewhere in the country. In New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, all wards have been replaced by one- or two-person rooms. Eighty-eight per cent of long-term care rooms in British Columbia are single occupancy, and less than one per cent of residents in Alberta and Newfoundland sleep in wards, per The Globe.

In other words, the Province of Ontario and its for-profit nursing home operators have failed to modernize the long-term care system and, by extension, have failed to protect vulnerable residents. This despite repeated promises from successive provincial governments to bring the system up-to-standard.

But what’s behind the failure? Why has Ontario struggled to update its system where other provinces have succeeded? According to critics interviewed by The Globe and Mail, private nursing homes simply have no incentive to improve their facilities. Ontario’s population is aging rapidly, which means massive demand for long-term care beds.

“It doesn’t matter if [the homes] do poorly,” said York University sociology professor Pat Armstrong. “They are going to be paid and they are going to be full.”

For the province’s personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers, this is simply no excuse. Long-term care residents are owed a certain standard of care, just like patients in hospitals or doctors’ offices. When a facility’s failure to uphold that standard of care results in serious injury or death, a personal injury lawsuit may be the victim’s only chance to hold the facility accountable.

If you or a member of your family has experienced substandard care at an Ontario long-term care facility, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers will be happy to discuss your case and explain your legal options.

 

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Greg Neinstein