Annamie Paul, on behalf of the Green Party of Canada, is calling on the federal government to convene a meeting of First Ministers to agree on an urgent action plan to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in long-term care (LTC) facilities across Canada.  

According to Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, the way residents in long-term care facilities have been treated during the Covid-19 pandemic “speaks volumes” about how much the government values the lives of seniors and people with special needs.

To date, the Covid-19 virus has killed over 10,500 long-term care residents and staff in Canada.

“A humanitarian crisis is an event that is a critical threat to the health, safety, security or well-being of a large group of people,” says Paul. “That is exactly what we have in our LTC facilities right now: a critical threat to the health and safety of long-term care residents.”

In an interview with CBC News, Paul calls for attention from people in Canada, informing them that the unfolding humanitarian crisis was and is avoidable. 

“For those who say it was inevitable, know that Canada has the worst record of COVID19 deaths in long-term care among rich countries.”

– Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Paul’s father, who was a resident at a long-term care facility in St. George, died last May after he developed an infection. Annamie Paul alleges his death was due to neglect and was “avoidable.”

In particular, Paul maintains that her father died because of the “perfect storm” of understaffing, overworked support workers, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the chronic problems in our long-term care facilities.

More than 80 percent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care. However, the humanitarian crisis that is now coming to light has been an issue long before the pandemic.

Among wealthy countries, Paul highlights, Canada has the worst record in terms of protection of long-term care residents.

In the Green Party’s press release, they note that the humanitarian crisis has especially impacted women, those living in long-term care and the “low-income racialized women” who staff long-term care facilities.

When asked by a CBC reporter why this has been allowed to happen, Paul said: “The lessons that we learned from the first wave were completely ignored.” 

Furthermore, Paul claims that a sort of “blame-game” is occurring between levels of government, in that no level of government is willing to take responsibility for what Paul has called a senocide, which is the “abandonment of older people to death.”

At an emergency town hall discussion, Annamie Paul and MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) met with long-term care experts. The experts stressed that the solutions to reducing COVID-19 deaths in long-term care are “clear, available, and implementable”. These actions, as listed in the press release, include:  

  • Accelerating the speed of vaccination in LTC facilities  
  • Increasing testing in LTC facilities 
  • Increasing and stabilising staffing in LTC homes and improving training and pay for workers 
  • Setting a national standard of four hours of regulated care per day of care for each LTC resident 
  • Greater separation of residents within LTC to prevent spread of infection 
  • Ensuring safe family access to LTC facilities 
  • More stringent accountability and penalties for LTC facility operators 

Clearly, as emphasized by Paul, solutions exist, but the political will does not.

When asked about Trudeau’s response to the crisis, in the previously mentioned CBC interview, Paul claims that he is “letting down” people across Canada in his lack of response to the long-term care crisis. Paul adds that the primary responsibility of the federal government is the “security of the people within its borders.” Although this is a serious threat to the security of people, it is not being addressed by the federal government.

The Green Party of Canada has proposed immediate action and concrete steps to put an end to this “avoidable tragedy”. Now is the time for the First Ministers to agree on how to “rapidly implement the solutions” so that COVID-19 deaths in long-term care can be dramatically reduced, says Paul.

“Our First Ministers cannot continue to look away as this preventable national tragedy unfolds before their eyes… There should not be one more death caused by inaction and lack of political leadership.”

– Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

In order to urge the federal government to adopt immediate solutions, Paul encourages people to write a letter to the government and has provided a format. “This is a matter of life or death”, she highlights.

In Canada, the provincial governments are responsible for the management, organization, and delivery of health care services. The federal government is responsible for setting and administering national standards for the health care system. Therefore, both levels of government should put an end to the “blame-game” and take responsibility for the crisis, in that the federal government should work with the provinces and LTC experts to finally take life-saving action.

Margaret Saville

Margaret Saville studies psychology and political science at McGill University in Montreal, and would like to pursue political journalism. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Nelson, British Columbia. Her passions include environmentalism, literature and writing, and down-hill skiing. Margaret is committed to addressing social issues such as the climate change crisis, racial and gender inequality, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ rights, and advocating for mental health awareness.

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