Despite having two years to plan for the COVID outbreaks happening in long-term care (LTC) today, the King government did nothing.
Earlier this week, Peter Bevan Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, called on Premier King to take immediate action to address the growing crisis in long-term care. Since then, the Official Opposition continues to hear from concerned families of LTC residents and healthcare workers. They are worried and scared for the safety of both residents and workers. It is time for this government to accept the responsibility of oversight of our LTC facilities.
During my calls with the Minister of Health and Wellness this past weekend, it became apparent that he is either unaware of the issues or is waiting for someone to tell him what to do. Therefore, I am calling on the Premier to direct his Minister of Health to immediately enforce the CPHO protocols designed to protect the residents and staff at our LTCs. This includes following the Health PEI COVID-19 Clinical Operational Plan (October 2020) that clearly outlines what to do in the event of an outbreak in LTC homes.
Specifically, I am calling on the government to:
- ensure all LTC facilities are following CPHO guidelines for isolation of positive cases;
- allow one Partner in Care to access the facility during a COVID outbreak to ensure that residents are cared for physically and mentally;
- utilize the LTC Mobile Rapid Response Outbreak Team to help with isolation, contact tracing, and testing of both residents and staff;
- and isolate all LTC residents who test positive for COVID-19 in dedicated LTC COVID-19 Care Units or to acute care.
I am also calling on Premier King to spend the $6M available in the federal Safe Long-term Care Funding and show Islanders how it was used. Under the agreement, this funding can be used to implement retention measures for existing staff, improve patient-to-staff ratios through federal reserves, and build new infrastructure or renovate existing buildings with improved ventilation of self-isolation rooms and adding single rooms.
Has this government learned anything from the devastating outcomes in other jurisdictions? It would be inexcusable for the Premier to ignore those lessons and allow Islanders to be placed at unnecessary risk because he is unwilling to enforce the protocols his government signed off on.
There has been a colossal failure in leadership in this area up to this point. It is time for this government to step up and do the job it was elected to do.
Michele Beaton, MLA
Mermaid – Stratford
Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness