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Sunday, January 16

Ontario to double fines and order nursing home takeovers that break new rules

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Nursing homes that break the rules would see maximum fines double and the worst-performing ones could face temporary takeovers under long-awaited legislation proposed Thursday in the wake of a pandemic that killed nearly 4,000 vulnerable residents.

The bill, called the Long-Term Care Repair Act, follows angry and anguished calls from families of loved ones in long-term care and government watchdogs for reforms and repairs to a system that the Premier Doug Ford admits he is “broken” by years of neglect and weaknesses exposed by COVID-19.

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips said this is a “watershed moment” for long-term care in Ontario, where more than 15,000 indoor residents and thousands of nursing home workers contracted COVID, with approximately a dozen personnel deaths.

“This, of course, is a very emotional issue,” he told the Star’s editorial board, acknowledging that there will be “skepticism” as to whether the reforms will bring the necessary improvements and implementation.

“As my mother would have said, the proof will be in the pudding.”

The legislation, if passed, would give the government powers to appoint supervisors for troubled homes, as the province now does with dysfunctional school boards and hospitals.

“In any system there will be some bad actors and as needed we will make sure those actors feel the full force of these rules,” added Phillips.

“We hope that quality of care and quality of life will be the focus.”

The maximum fines double to $ 200,000 for individuals and $ 500,000 for corporations for a first offense and to $ 400,000 and $ 1 million for second offenses.

Board members running for-profit nursing homes could face maximum penalties of $ 200,000 and $ 400,000 on the first and second offenses, with lower maximum penalties of $ 4,000 for non-profit households.

The higher fines are meant to draw the attention of for-profit operators amid a push from some opposition parties and activists to phase out from the system after several for-profit houses like Orchard Villa in Pickering they experienced severe outbreaks and a high number of deaths. COVID tolls.

Ford called on Canadian Armed Forces medical teams to help out in the worst-hit homes, where staffing levels fell as much as 20 percent due to illness and absenteeism. Later, a military report exposed horrible living conditions and poor care, such as residents force-fed to the point of suffocation or malnourished and dehydrated.

“We have to have real financial power,” Phillips said, calling the sanctions “an effective tool to correct organizations that are not meeting their obligations.”

Among other things, the bill would enshrine into law Ford’s promise to provide four hours a day of hands-on care to nursing home residents every day by 2025 and sets interim targets, doubling the number of inspectors with new powers to press charges on the spot, mandates a properly trained infection prevention and control leader for each home, requires each home to improve hospice care, and prohibits anyone convicted of a crime under the new law from working, volunteering, or sitting in the board of any nursing home.

Palliative care is an important component because a third of nursing home residents die each year under normal circumstances, said Phillips, who, as a minister, could also hear appeals of licensing decisions made by the ministry.

A government source told the Star that this means that a long-term care minister could override the ministry, most likely denying a license.

The legislation would replace the current Long-Term Care Homes Act passed in 2007 in an earlier reform attempt by the liberal Dalton McGuinty government.

Phillips is introducing the bill as long-term care homes continue to grapple with staffing shortages and the government scrambles to get more personal support workers and nurses in the works to meet the four-hour standard of care. , compared to an average of less than three hours today.

The government has promised nearly 30,000 new long-term care beds by 2028, and thousands are already under development. But that development will also drive the need for more workers in nursing homes.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday that a taxpayer-funded $ 3 per hour surcharge for 50,000 personal support workers in nursing homes will run through March 31 to help attract and retain PSWs. They do most of the nursing home residents’ care, such as toileting, bathing, grooming, dressing, and feeding.

The same supplement is being provided to PSWs in home care and children’s services, community and social services. Hospital PSWs will continue to receive an additional $ 2 per hour.

Critics have been calling on the government to make the increases permanent to provide a sense of certainty rather than a series of temporary extensions. New Democratic leader Andrea Horwath has promised to increase PSW’s wages by $ 5 an hour if she is elected prime minister on June 2.

In other news about the pandemic, the province is lifting “capacity limits for organized outdoor public events” such as Santa Claus parades and Remembrance Day services.

But masks will be mandatory if a physical distance of two meters is not possible.

For all other outdoor social gatherings, there are still limits of 100 people.

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Reference-www.thestar.com

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