Ford government scandals and problems

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NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has slammed the Ford government for its failure to deal quickly with the third wave of Covid infections driven by new variants. The slowness of the Ford government response to the third wave has resulted in an exponential growth of infections. 

The Ford government has been slammed by the opposition for letting a third wave of COVID-19 "spiral out of control" as new infections and hospitalizations surge in the province.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath made the comments during Question Period at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, saying that Ford’s actions "walked us directly into a third wave."

"Why does the premier continue to ignore all of the warnings from hospitals, his own experts, from nurses, from doctors? Why does he continue to ignore the warning and refuse to act?" Horwath said.

Horwath's remarks come a day after a report from Ontario's science table was released, revealing that variants of concern are starting to have a "substantial impact" on the healthcare system.

The experts found that the presence of the variants are driving a rise in hospitalizations that involve younger people.

Horwath said the report and calls from medical experts make it "pretty clear" that Ontario is not winning the race between vaccines and variants and that more action needs to be taken.

"The government has allowed the third wave to spiral out of control," Horwath said. "When is this premier going to act and get ahead of the crisis that we are in?" ...

Horwath has previously suggested other measures like smaller class sizes, better COVID-19 testing in schools, and paid time off for vaccine appointments. ...

Just hours before Ford's comments, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the date of the break had not changed and was still slated to begin on April 12. 

"Students, parents, teachers are frustrated. They’re frustrated and confused and concerned," Horwath said. "The latest confusion came yesterday around the April Break."

"Within hours of each other, the premier and his education minister contradicted each other about what might be happening for April. So, the question is, why can’t the government ever provide certainty and answers for parents and kids and teachers."



In Ontario senior care home residents are demanding that they be allowed to go outside because they feel like they have been in solitary confinement for a year. 

Residents of Ontario's long-term care homes begged on Tuesday to be allowed outside, saying anti-pandemic restrictions that have confined them indoors for more than a year make no sense given almost all have now been vaccinated.

Some compared their situations to solitary confinement, and urged the provincial government to act on what they called a gross violation of their basic human rights.

Chuck Ferkranus, a resident of a home in Newmarket, Ont., said no one in the building has COVID-19 and yet residents are stuck in their rooms. Ferkranus, who challenged those in authority to live as he does for even a week, said residents are being treated worse than criminals.

"We did nothing wrong; we're not guilty of any crime," he said. "If vaccinations don't end the rules, if no one having COVID doesn't end the restrictions, then what does it take before this comes to an end?"

Many of an estimated 150,000 nursing home residents have been confined to their rooms or floors for as long as 15 months now, cut off from most relatives as well as the outdoors. Activists blame extreme staffing shortages and operators who prioritize corporate needs ahead of the welfare of residents.

Advocates also say the restrictions make no sense. Scientific evidence, they note, indicates COVID-19 is far less likely to spread outdoors than indoors. They also point to evidence that extreme isolation is physically and mentally damaging, especially to residents of nursing homes, many of whom suffer cognitive difficulties and need familiar faces and touch.

"It just cannot go on like this; people are really suffering," said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "We're furious and we're heartbroken."

Alfred Borg, another resident in Newmarket, said he hasn't been allowed outside for more than a year or even had a shower for five or six months. Instead, he said, residents only get in-room sponge baths when even the law guarantees twice a week baths or showers.

"All day long we just sit in our room," Borg said. "Why are we being treated so much differently from everyone else? It is not enough just being alive. We need a better quality of life." ...

Jane Meadus, a lawyer, called the restrictions a violation of human rights. While anti-pandemic measures loosen in the rest of society, she said, seniors continue to suffer. "All along, these detentions have been illegal," Meadus said. Premier Doug Ford and his ministers have not responded to letters Meadus wrote last month calling for a ban on such confinement, she said. At a news conference on Tuesday, Ford expressed some sympathy but gave no indication he would act on the concerns. "I fully understand -- my mother-in-law's in there," Ford said. "But we have to be super cautious."


Doug the Slug's COVID Class War - Landlord-friendly Online Eviction Permanent

"Breaking: Landlord and Tenant Board just announced that eviction hearings will be held online permanently - even post-pandemic. Going forward, corporate landlords can continue evicting families from their mansions and cottages - never having to see those they are making homeless."



Before the pandemic BC had telephone hearings, not even video just good old conference calls and never a hearing in person.


Ford is facing a growing backlash from the public and the NDP opposition.  On the CBC National it was noted that pharmacies in wealthy white regions with low rates of Covid infections were receiving far more vaccines than pharmacies in poor racialized regions.

With COVID-19 cases at a record high and questions persisting over the province’s vaccine rollout, it was an all-out battle between Ontario Premier Doug Ford and opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

“The warnings came from the experts back in February that we were going to end up exactly where we are now,” said Horwath at Queen’s Park on Thursday.

Ford fired back, calling Horwath’s comments ironic.

“The negative talk that comes out of the leader of the opposition again, and it’s ironic, it’s coming from a person that has done diddly squat. Nothing. Zero, sat in her seat and sits there and criticizes.”

The heat facing the Premier and his government led to Ford issuing a full statement, reading in part, “For the past several days, the opposition has spread misinformation and dangerously politicized the province’s efforts to vaccinate 114 high-risk neighbourhoods.”

“These hotspots were identified based on analysis conducted by the COVID-19 science advisory table, which relied on Public Health Ontario Data and were confirmed by the non-partisan vaccine force,” said Ford. “… Regions in the highest 20 percent were identified as hotspot communities. Regions in the top-30 percent, that faced additional barriers, including sociodemographic ones, were also included.”

On Tuesday, Ontario announced its plan to roll out vaccines to “hot spot” regions across the province as part of Phase 2.

Through this drive, 114 highly impacted neighbourhoods, as identified by postal code, will be reached through mass immunization clinics, mobile teams and pop-up clinics.

Residents aged 18 and over in designated hot spots, as identified by postal code, are eligible for vaccination through mobile teams and pop-up clinics in targeted settings.

The rollout will begin in Peel and Toronto with the province providing additional resources to support more mobile vaccination teams while expanding to hot spots in other public health units in the future.

In response to Ford, the NDP leader said, “The people of Ontario deserve so much better than this.”

Horwath asked the Premier about the cancelled vaccine appointments at Scarborough yesterday, to which the Premier said it was a supply issue.

“Since January, the K2V postal code in Ottawa had 44 percent more cases per 10,000 than the provincial average. As well, this postal code saw 25 percent more COVID-19 deaths,” Ford’s statement continues. “These indicators were considered in addition to the fact that this postal code’s sociodemographic data from the most recent census shows a racialized community of over 40 percent.”


More on the disparity between the low rate of receiving vaccines in racialized regions compared to the high rate in wealthy regions where the infection rate is lower. 

In Ontario, the people least likely to have received their COVID-19 vaccine are the same people who keep the city running during lockdowns, says a community organizer.

An analysis from ICES — an Ontario research organization that tracks data on a broad range of health-care issues — used postal codes to show people in Ontario's hardest-hit neighbourhoods aren't accessing COVID-19 vaccines at the same rate as those in higher-income areas that have seen far fewer infections.

For example, 22 per cent of residents in Toronto's upscale St. Clair and Rosedale neighbourhood have had at least one dose. But only 5.5 per cent of people have been vaccinated in the Jane and Finch area, where COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates are more than eight times higher. 

The province responded to the data on Tuesday by expanding vaccine eligibility to people 18 and over in the province's COVID-19 hot spots.

Michelle Dagnino, executive director of the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the data. Here's part of their conversation. 

Michelle, what was it like for you to see this massive gap and who is getting vaccinated in your city of Toronto?

It's so disheartening to see one year after the alarm was first sounded about the differential impact of COVID across the city.

[What are] some of the reasons why people in Jane Finch and those other areas of Toronto and Ontario are not getting vaccinated?

One of the first issues that popped up around the vaccine rollout was how one went around to book an appointment.... It's an online portal. For anyone who has tried to book an appointment in the last four weeks or six weeks, you'll know that it's quite confusing in terms of getting onto the portal, trying to understand what priority group you fall under, trying to find a clinic that has availability close to you.

For the residents of Jane and Finch, what that means is you have to have a device connected to Wi-Fi. You have to have familiarity with English. And you have to be able to have a clinic that is close to you. And for the past month, that has not been the case.

How difficult was it for people to get to these places? I would imagine a lot of these people don't have their own cars.

The vast majority don't have their own car. So when we are talking about vaccinating seniors — so the first round of vaccines, which were targeted based on age group — we're looking at 80-plus-year-olds who were told to book their vaccine online and then take public transit to get to a vaccine clinic in one of the most heavily transited corridors in the city and in one of the highest hot-spot areas of the city.

So people were literally having to consider the risk of taking transit in order to get a COVID vaccine. ...

A lot of these people go to work. They're not being able to work from home like many people downtown are, or in the centre of the city. These people are going to jobs where they're spending a great deal of time on public transportation to get there. What kind of a barrier does that present?

For many of our working folks in the Jane and Finch area, they're having to take a day off of work — and it's an unpaid day off of work — to get their vaccine.

And for many who are living paycheque to paycheque, missing a day of work — and potentially missing more than one day, because there may be some symptoms that they get from the vaccine that would prevent them from going to work for another day or two — means that they may not have enough money at the end of the month for food or to pay a utility bill.

These are residents who keep this city running. They are daycare workers. They are Uber drivers. They are grocery store clerks. But most of them cannot afford to take a day off to go get a vaccine. ...

Now that we're months into this vaccine delivery program, are things getting any better since these problems have been identified?

Yes. In the past few days, we have seen improvements. ...

What do you make of the fact that it's taken this long to solve these problems?

It speaks to 40 years of crises in the community, 40 years of austerity, 40 years of neglect in nearly all investments from infrastructure to social services.

This is not a crisis that emerged March 13, 2020. This is a crisis that has been decades in the making. And what's important for all of us in the city and all of us in this country who care about our fellow residents is to understand that whenever the crisis of COVID is over and we are starting to see a finish line, the structural problems, the structural inequity, the racism, the decades of underinvestment in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood, will still be there. And we will not be any better prepared for the next crisis if we don't start to address that.



Before the pandemic BC had telephone hearings, not even video just good old conference calls and never a hearing in person.


Having lived for some time in both provinces each has their own contrasting malignities. I never found BC's landlord/tenant apparatus to be anything but barbaric and hard on poor people of which I have experience in both places. Even under the awful era of Mike Harris poverty and housing issues seemed to me worse under Mike Harcourt's NDP. Perhaps it's now equally bad in both places. In Canada, this sort of 'harmonization' is often what passes for 'progress'.


That press conference today was aggravating as heck, with little help on hand but lots of shoulder shrugging, blaming others & refusing to accept responsibility. It's starting to appear more & more like the Ford Government has lost the plot (if they ever had it to begin with):


I agree with above. The state of affairs in Ontario is a cruel fiasco including the newly enhanced police state powers to camouflage the crimninal incompetence of the Ford regime and its outrageous mishandling of the pandemic. This is an emergency and a disaster in progress.

Petition to the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario: Remove Doug Ford From Office

Sign/forward the petition.


Empowering the monarchy to overturn democracy is not acceptable under any circumstances, and would set a precedent that would absolutely be used against any left-wing government that might ever be elected.


Good point.


The Ford government has had to backtrack once again when it comes to Covid, as on so many other issues.

The Ontario government has revised the new police powers that initially let officers make random stops to enforce the stay-at-home order. Now, the province said police may stop individuals only if they are suspected of participating in an organized event or social gathering. The government announced the changes Saturday evening....

Ontario introduced sweeping new restrictions Friday in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province's third wave. One of those measures includes more power for police where officers can legally stop individuals on the street and in vehicles and question their reasons for leaving their homes.

However, a majority of police services in the province said they do not intend to randomly stop people or vehicles.

In a tweet published Saturday morning, Toronto police said they would opt out of the new enforcement. Instead, they say they will "continue to engage and enforce equitably and effectively, recognizing always that we must inspire public trust." Interim Toronto police Chief James Ramer doubled down on the decision in a separate tweet saying, "Our officers will not be doing random stops of people or cars."

In a news release issued Saturday, Peel Regional Police announced they too would not be conducting random stops. Chief Nishan Duraiappah said he recognizes the "concern" the measure brings to the community and assured residents that the force would not be conducting vehicle or individual stops.

Other police services across the province, including those in York and Durham regions, Ottawa and northern Ontario also refused to do random stops.

Speaking to CP24 Saturday afternoon, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown called the policy a "misuse of police resources." ...

Public health experts have also questioned the measure and civil liberties advocates are warning that the move could lead to a rash of racial profiling. Before the Ford government announced the changes, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said they were planning to go to court to challenge the regulation. ...

Over the last two days, the province has logged record-breaking COVID-19 case counts largely driven by variants of the disease, according to public health officials.


'Doug Ford Must Resign'

"We are making international news. For all the wrong reasons. Ontario has become a humanitarian disaster owing to a historic void in leadership. It's time. We cannot spare another life. Not one. #FordMustResign "


The NDP said on Sunday that the PCs had informed they planned to shut down the legislature on Wednesday. Under repeated attacks from doctors, civil rights groups, racial minorities and other parties, the Ford government has said the legislature,  which was due to continue in session until June, will be in session this week, which doesn't mean that it could still be shut down this week. 

The Doug Ford government is denying that it had plans to shut down the Ontario legislature by Wednesday. In a statement on Sunday, the office of Government House Leader Paul Calandra said the legislature will be in session this coming week. The legislature is currently scheduled to sit until June. ...

Earlier on Sunday, the NDP said in a news release that the government informed it of plans to shut down the legislature by Wednesday. ...

She said the NDP has written a letter to the government saying it will not co-operate with any suspension until the province:

  • Institutes paid sick days.
  • Cancels all extraordinary police powers announced on Friday in their entirety.
  • Shuts down all non-essential workplaces.
  • Pledges a "meaningful package of supports" for businesses and workers affected by closures.

"People are laying in crowded hospital hallways, struggling to breathe, and many thousands more will join them if we don't replace Doug Ford's plan," Horwath said in the release. "Black, Indigenous and racialized people know check stops and carding will target them, because it always has. Businesses are already on the brink and more will go under without help. People's lives are on the line." ...

Horwath said the NDP is prepared to talk about how the parties can run the legislature with a minimum number of MPPs and staff and with strict health protocols.

"We are not prepared to help Doug Ford go home, leaving a police-state in place while he allows COVID-19 to run rampant, overrun hospitals, and steal the lives of Ontarians who would otherwise make it through this," she said. "Our province has never faced such a crisis as it is today. For the people elected to protect and support Ontarians to walk away from their duty at this time is wrong, and I won't do it." ...


"Open playgrounds don't help the children of essential workers when their parents are on a vent in the ICU. If this doesn't make Doug Ford reassess his responsibility to protect vulnerable people for illness and death nothing will."


"Yesterday: only 42,873 tests and 66,897 vaccines. Today: another all pandemic high with 749 patients with COVID in the ICU. We need an all-party committee to provide public oversight. And we need a 'COVID czar' to orchestrate the response."


The Ontario Science Advisory Table has heavily criticized the Ford government for its failure to deal with Covid both through its actions and inactions that has resulted in the pandemic becoming an ever increasing crisis in the province,. They especially criticized the Ontario government over the lack of sick leave, and the failure to protect essential workers  and racialized communities, as well as for not focusing on Covid hotspots, all of which thereby help to spread the disease. 

The Ontario government’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table is calling for urgent and stronger action to reign in the spread of cases, noting the province’s hospitals are “buckling.”

“Ontario is now facing the most challenging health crisis of our time. Our case counts are at an all-time high. Our hospitals are buckling. Younger people are getting sicker. The disease is ripping through whole families,” a letter issued Tuesday afternoon on behalf of group’s 40 doctors, medical professionals and scientists said. “The variants of concern that now dominate COVID-19 in Ontario are, in many ways, a new pandemic, and Ontario needs stronger measures to control the pandemic.”

The advisory body, which has been in existence for nearly a year, focused on six areas that, in their words, would “reduce transmission, protect our health care system, and allow us to reopen safely as soon as possible.” ...

Topping the list of recommendations was reviewing the list of workplaces deemed essential by the Ontario government. 

“This means permitting only truly essential indoor workplaces to stay open and strictly enforcing COVID-19 safety measures in those places,” the statement said. “Essential workers must wear masks at all times while working indoors, or when close to others outdoors, and must be supported in doing so.”

The Table also reiterated the need to ensure essential workers continue to receive pay if they need to stay home, are exposed to COVID-19, or need time to get a vaccine. The group said the current federal program is not enough. “Workers who do [go to work sick or go after having been exposed to the virus] often do so because they have no choice: they must feed their families and pay their rent. Compared to other models that appear to have limited spread, the federal [Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit] is cumbersome and does not provide enough financial support,” the members wrote. ...

“An emergency benefit that offers more money, is easily accessible, immediately paid and that, for the duration of the pandemic, is available to essential workers … will help limit spread.”

The advisory body called for an acceleration of vaccinating essential workers in hot spot communities.

“It also means accelerating the distribution and administration of vaccines overall, making it easier for at-risk groups to get vaccinated, and promoting the vaccine with more intensive and effective on-the-ground community outreach.”

The medical experts also encouraged the provincial government to put in place regional travel restrictions due to an increase in variants of concern, stopping indoor gatherings with people from outside the immediate household, and maintaining outdoor activities in a safe way. “This means allowing small groups of people from different households to meet outside with masking and two-metre distancing. It means keeping playgrounds open and clearly encouraging safe outdoor activities,” the group said....

The statement came days after Ontario announced and then abandoned plans to close playgrounds and enhance police powers during an extended stay-at-home order, prompting widespread backlash. 

The Table encouraged those enacting COVID-19 policies to look at those decisions through an equity lens in order to ensure those from racialized, vulnerable and marginalized communities aren’t harmed or neglected since the virus “already affects these groups disproportionately.”

The group also took aim at “inconsistent policies with no clear link to scientific evidence” and restrictions that discourage safe outdoor activity. “[Those policies] will not control COVID-19 and will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have access to their own greenspace, especially those living in crowded conditions,” the statement said.


Doug Ford's popularity plummets as pandemic takes its toll

Polls suggests the Ontario premier's pandemic honeymoon is over

Éric Grenier · CBC News · Apr 22, 2021


Doug Ford apologized today  and admitted he got it wrong when it comes to dealing with Covid. Unfortunately, far too many people in Ontario paid for his mistakes not with embarassment, like Ford, but with their lives. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford apologized to Ontarians Thursday morning, days after his government faced intense backlash for introducing a number of additional COVID-19 restrictions that were not recommended by health experts and then nixed earlier this week.

Ford, who is isolating at his late mother's home in Etobicoke after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, said at a news conference he wanted to "address the events of this past week" after his government put in new measures in response to "extremely troubling modelling."

The province was trying to curb mobility in Ontario, he said.

"But we moved too fast," Ford said, with some measures going too far. "Simply put, we got it wrong. We made a mistake. These decisions, they left a lot of people really concerned," Ford said. "For that I am sorry, and I sincerely apologize." ...

The premier and some of his top cabinet ministers have been under fire after announcing last Friday that the province would close playgrounds and hand police arbitrary powers, among other additional measures, in a bid to curb the third wave of the pandemic. 

The public outcry to both moves was so swift and fierce that the government reversed course on both within days of the announcement. Members of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table also disavowed the decisions, making clear in interviews with media that they were not based on their own recommendations to cabinet. 

Various sources close to the government told CBC News the decisions came amid panic over the latest modelling for the pandemic and fears that Ford's approval among voters would suffer badly if he was not seen to be taking action. ...

Driven by variants of concern, the third wave has pushed Ontario's health-care system to a breaking point. As of Thursday, there were 2,350 people with COVID-19 in hospital. Of those, 806 were in intensive care units and 588 required a ventilator to breathe, both all-time highs for the province. Hospitals throughout the province have been ordered to stop all non-emergency surgeries amid a record number of patient transfers, as health networks try to cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients. ...

The provincial government has also faced mounting pressure to implement its own paid sick leave program for workers who fall ill with the disease or are exposed to someone with a confirmed case, something that public health experts and advocates have been demanding for months.

In a statement issued after the news conference, Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, said Ontarians were waiting for some sort of commitment to deliver paid sick days, only to get "absolutely nothing. The chorus of voices calling for paid sick days is roaring over Ford's inaction," Hahn said. "It's time to back apologies with actions. It's time for far more than an assurance that he'll work on something."



"40 year old beautiful daycare teacher is in life support fighting for her life. She had yet to be vaccinated. Doug Ford should come and seat here, said a group of furious ICU nurses. They are exhausted and heartbroken."


The Ford government is so desperate to find additional healthcare workers to deal with the ever growing Covid crisis in Ontario that it helped accelerate to the edge of failure of the provincial medical system, that it is not only seeking help from other provinces and the federal government in recruiting medical personnel, but is also looking the US and as far away as the Philippines. 

A team of nine healthcare workers from Newfoundland and Labrador have arrived in Toronto to help treat COVID-19 patients in some of the city’s hardest hit hospitals.

The group, which consists of three doctors and six critical care nurses, touched down at Pearson International Airport in a Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft early Tuesday afternoon.

They are the first reinforcements to arrive in Ontario since the province issued a call for more than 600 healthcare professionals nearly two weeks ago.

The Canadian Armed Forces to deploy nine ICU nurses and up to three multipurpose medical assistance teams in the province as well, though it is unclear when they will arrive.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also said on Tuesday that 62 health professionals from the federal government have volunteered to help in Ontario hospitals, including doctors and nurses who work in prisons or for Indigenous Services Canada. ...

The number of COVID patients in intensive care units in Ontario has more than doubled over the last month and now stands at 875.

Ontario has ordered all hospitals to cease all elective and non-emergent procedures in an attempt to free up capacity but with COVID patients now taking up roughly one out of three available beds in intensive care units concerns are building that healthcare workers will eventually have to make impossible decisions about who to provide the highest level of care to.

Meanwhile a temporary field hospital that was set up on the grounds of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre earlier this month has now begun accepting patient transfers, underscoring how dire our current situation is. The field hospital is currently staffed by doctors and nurses from Sunnybrook though hospital officials say that military medics could eventually be relied upon to treat patients once they are deployed....

“We are continuing our search internationally to see if there are any teams that can come from other countries to help us but as you know there are many countries in the world that are facing the same situation that we are as well,” Elliott said earlier on Tuesday. “We have made some requests in the U.S. and we are still waiting to hear specifics from them but we also looked to other countries, such as the Philippines for example, and are still waiting to hear on that.”

Elliott said that Manitoba has also offered to put a call out to retired healthcare workers to help out in Ontario hospitals but she said that the province hasn’t received any formal offer of support at this point.


Organizing against the war on the poor - with John Clarke (and vid)

"Neoliberalism, austerity, direct-action, housing, homelessness, police..'We're entering a period of crisis like we've never seen before.."


Don Davies NDP MP tweet

"The simple truth is that no province in Canada - Liberal, Conservative, NDP, CAQ - has paid sick leave as a basic employment standard. Higher income employees generally get it, low paid don’t. This must change for social justice + public health reasons. It’s time."



"It's hard to believe but Doug Ford has managed to design a #PaidSickDays scheme that leaves low-wage workers WORSE off. Here's why..."

[email protected]


The 322-page report from Ontario's Long-Term Care Commission released on Friday concluded the Ford government "had no comprehensive plans to protect long-term care homes that have been neglected for years, leaving residents and staff 'easy targets' for COVID-19". The report notes that the problem extends back into the provincial Liberals and previous PC governments' time in office .

The report stated that the long-term care sector was insufficiently prepared for a pandemic, and it was made worse by the province's slow and reactive response when the virus arrived....

"Critical decisions came too late and the government's emergency response system proved inadequate to protect staff and residents from COVID-19," the report found. "Staff, long-term care residents suffered terribly during this pandemic. Residents and long-term care staff who lost their lives to COVID-19 paid the ultimate price."

Long-term care homes in the province have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 3,700 resident deaths. Of those, 1,937 occurred during the first wave.

The report looked into the state of long-term care before COVID-19, the deficiencies in Ontario's pandemic response, the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care, and best practices and promising ideas that can be adopted and expanded to improve long-term care. ...

"The province's lack of pandemic preparedness and the poor state of the long-term care sector were apparent for many years to policymakers, advocates and anyone else who wished to see. Ontario's policymakers and leaders failed during those years to take sufficient action, despite repeated calls for reform," the report stated. "Rather, the commitment and resources needed to prepare for a pandemic and address long-neglected problems with long-term care were shunted in favour of more pressing policies and fiscal priorities."

The commission found that the government failed to follow through with the recommendations that came out of reports after the SARS outbreak in 2003. While Ontario paid attention to them for a time, it "lost the will to make pandemic preparedness a priority." This resulted in the stockpile of emergency supplies acquired following SARS expiring and later ordered to be destroyed.

Many of the issues highlighted by the report are not new, but previous governments all failed to address them. The report stated that long-term care experts and advocates have repeatedly been calling for an overhaul of the sector even before the pandemic struck. Many homes had outdated and not up to standards infrastructure. Staffing issues have also been a problem prior to the pandemic. ...

The commission also looked into the government's second wave response. The report stated that despite the preparations by the province during the summer when "there was a lull in the storm," it did not protect residents from a deadlier second wave.​ ...

The commission laid out 85 recommendations, which build on the two interim guidance released last year. They include preparing for future pandemics and developing plans to deal with infectious disease outbreaks. The province should maintain a pandemic stockpile, including personal protective equipment.

“Pandemic preparedness must be a constant priority. The lives of those most at risk depend on it. When COVID-19 slammed into an already vulnerable long-term care sector, the cost of that lack of preparedness was on full display. As it should have done following the SARS outbreak in 2003, the province must now accept that there will be another pandemic. ...

Counselling services should be offered to residents and staff whose emotional and psychological well-being were affected by COVID-19. The commission is also recommending standardizing and prioritizing infection protection and control practices in long-term care homes. Health care system integration should also be strengthened. The commission found that the long-term care sector did not have established relationships with the health care system, particularly hospitals. Resident-focused care and quality of life must improve. ...

The government should also address human resources challenges by accelerating the staffing plan, increasing the number of skilled staff, supporting enhanced education and development and improving working conditions and compensation. The commission also recommended regulating personal support workers. To meet the care demands of long-term care residents, the province must increase and reorient long-term care funding. ...

The province must also improve its compliance enforcement efforts to protect the residents’ safety and well-being and strengthen investigations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. That includes enhancing whistleblower protections.


The evidence on the failure of the Ford government to deal even marginally effectively with the Covid crisis in long-term care homes keeps piling up, like the dead bodies. 

Documents obtained by Global News and interviews with more than 20 health experts, including physicians and senior’s advocates, reveal how the Ford government received repeated and pointed warnings about the looming dangers lurking in long-term care homes, and how it failed to deliver what was desperately needed in a sector already devastated by a deadly first wave of COVID-19.

“It was all just too slow, too late,” said Dr. Kevin Katz, medical director of infection prevention and control at North York General Hospital in Toronto.

Some of the documents included:

  • An April 20, 2020 letter from infection prevention and control leaders at Toronto-area hospitals warned about the dire need to train and hire more infection prevention experts.
  • An Ontario Health review Insights and Recommendations for Long-Term Care from July 24, 2020 warned that “LTC and public health are significantly under-resourced to meet IPAC standards to protect the basic needs of residents”
  • A “lessons learned” list from the Ministry of Long-Term Care dated July 15, 2020 warned that the province knew it needed “1000s” of PSWs.

The Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s final report as well as a damning new auditor general’s report underscored a months-long Global News investigation that found the Ontario government failed to provide homes with adequate infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures, didn’t hire staff fast enough and failed to take action on de-crowding older homes. ...

Deaths in long-term care and retirement homes increased to 2,265 from 2,072 in Ontario during the second wave, Alberta saw its first wave numbers catapult from 153 to more than 1,000 in the second wave, and Manitoba’s jumped from just three deaths in the first wave to 480 in the second wave.

Over the course of the pandemic, nearly 15,000 residents in long-term care and retirement homes died across Canada.

“If you want to talk about high yield things that could have been done, it would have been to secure staffing, shore up infection prevention and control, and it would have been to de-crowd homes,” said Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician and researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “We failed to act meaningfully on either of those three issues.”

“Why was this sector so neglected and why did nobody act on what was learned in the first wave to prevent it from happening in the second wave?”...

In April 2020, as long-term care homes were still reeling from the devastating first months of the pandemic, a group of physicians warned the Ontario government that it needed to rapidly build IPAC inside nursing homes.

“The majority of [long-term care home facilities] had significant deficiencies in IPAC practices and lacked IPAC expertise and accountability,” reads a copy of the draft proposal to hire IPAC specialists.

Infectious disease experts called for the government to hire IPAC specialists for nursing homes at a ratio of one full-time specialist per 200 beds;  one per 250 beds in retirement homes. ...

Known as a “hub and spoke model” these workers would be trained and managed by the specialized doctors based at nearby hospitals.

The proposal written up for Toronto — which could be expanded across the province — said the cost would be between around $5.5-million and $7.2-million a year.

“The dividends in resident and staff safety as well as future cost savings to the overall healthcare system will be substantial and will be felt immediately,” the document read.

However, it wasn’t until November – as homes began reporting more COVID-19 outbreaks – when the Ministry of Long-Term Care formally outlined specific recommendations related to the “hub and spoke model,” which was first adopted in September. ...

The funding letters for this life-saving IPAC measure didn’t arrive until January 2021, nine months after the first proposal was issued. The province didn’t respond to questions about why the funding took months to arrive after it was announced. Long-term care minister Merrilee Fullerton declined several requests for an interview. ...

Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto’s University Health Network, said the province needs to move faster to close the “gap” in the need for these experts in long-term care. “It’s not like there are infection prevention and control practitioners waiting in the wings through this pandemic,” Hota said. “They’re all employed and they’re all very much in shortage.”


In addition to the  Ontario's Long-Term Care Commission's report released on Friday on the Covid crisis in long-term care homes discussed in post # 191, another just released report, this one by Ontario auditor general Lysyk, describes the epic crisis in these homes. Lysyk's report focuses on the Ford government failure to regularly inspect LTC homes despite a backlog of 3,000 complaints. Ford pointed to thirty years of failure to invest in long-term care by, in his words "government after government, Liberal and Conservative," which is true, while failing to acknowledge his own gross failures on this issue, that has led to the deaths of thousands in these facilities.

Once again, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spotlight on Ontario’s long-term care homes. Two reports criticize the lack of action by the government, as well as existing problems in the homes, which left hundreds of residents and staff easy targets for the pandemic -- and they paid the ultimate price. 

A scathing report from the government watchdog outlined neglect and said the nursing homes were badly prepared for COVID-19. A second report from a provincial COVID-19 commission, that was given to the government on Friday night, said there also was no plan to protect long-term care residents from the pandemic.

Some 3,700 residents of long-term care homes in Ontario died because of COVID-19, more than half of them during the first wave last year.

Ontario’s auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said the provincial government’s decision to delay implementing measures to control the spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes might have contributed to the devastating toll on residents and staff during the first wave of the pandemic. Lysyk said Ontario didn’t appear to learn any lessons from the SARS outbreak almost two decades ago.

"Ultimately, senior management in the long-term care homes are the ones that are responsible for protecting the people inside their homes. So there needs to be some accountability on that front,” she said.

Lysyk also said the government was not prepared and that it had canceled surprise and comprehensive inspections of long-term care homes in 2018.

"Instead of doing comprehensive inspections, they would catch up on the backlog of complaints," Lysyk said. "I think there were outstanding ones of about 3,000. So in that sense, they then did that instead of continuing and doing comprehensive inspections."

Lysyk said in February 2020, the medical officer of health issued a guidance on infection prevention and control, but that left it up to the home operators to decide what action to take. By the time an emergency order was made two months later mandating staff and essential visitors to wear masks, there were more than 800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff. ...

Premier Doug Ford did some buck-passing of his own, but also promised action, saying that what happened in the long-term care homes can never be allowed to happen again.

"I could point to 30 years of underinvestment from government after government, Liberal and Conservative, but none of that matters because I’m your premier today," he said. "I will stand here and tell you that I’m doing everything in my power as premier and I’m sparing no expense to fix the system."

However, Dr. Vivian Stamatopolous, a long-term care researcher, said the government didn’t implement the recommendations of experts to safeguard long-term care homes ahead of the second wave.

"You can build as many fancy facilities as you want, but if you don’t address the root problems within these homes -- the working conditions and the absent standard of care in addition to the laughable penalties for noncompliance -- nothing is gonna change," she said.


Once again the Ford government is under attack for another own goal - this time over Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria raising doubts in the public's mind about the efficacy of the Covid vaccines. 

Ontario’s small business minister is under fire after wading into the debate over vaccine efficacy — and potentially shaking public confidence. ...

Prabmeet Sarkaria cited a study published as a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine as a reason for tougher border restrictions.

“The study out of Qatar states that Pfizer’s one shot is only 30 per cent effective against the variant that originates out of the U.K.,” the associate minister of small business and red tape reduction told reporters.

Sarkaria’s assertion came as Ontario prepares to receive about 7 million doses of Pfizer vaccine from the federal government by the end of June. Those vaccines are a key part of the province’s plan to give first doses to 65 per cent of Ontario adults by the end of the month. The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the U.K., is by far the dominant strain in Ontario. 

But Ontario’s chief coroner and the associate chief medical officer both provided context for the figures Sarkaria pulled from the Qatar study.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, chief coroner and a member of Ontario’s vaccination task force, said the Qatar study didn’t specify the time frame for higher infection levels after the first dose, making it likely infections happened early on, before the vaccine took full effect. Statistics gathered in Ontario show strong protection, he said. “Dose one in our population for the period of time Dec. 14 to April 19, we did see an effectiveness of 70 per cent.” ...

With a year to go until next spring’s Ontario election campaign, the attack ads that depict planes landing at Pearson International Airport and a red stain of infection spreading across the province are a desperate attempt for the Ford government to “change the channel” on its failures to contain COVID-19 and high death levels in nursing homes, said New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath. “It’s dangerous to only look at one study,” she added.


A third report, this one by the military, in less than a week details the horrors that the Ford government allowed to occur in senior's long term care homes in Ontario. This follows the Ontario's Long-Term Care Commission's report on Friday (see post # 176) and the Ontario auditor general (see post #177). "Dozens of residents in two Ontario nursing homes hit hard by the coronavirus died not from COVID-19 but from dehydration and neglect, the Canadian military says". Those responsible, including owners of private LTC homes, should be prosecuted for their actions. 

Dozens of residents in two Ontario nursing homes hit hard by the coronavirus died not from COVID-19 but from dehydration and neglect, the Canadian military says in reports obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The documents contain new details about the deplorable conditions in two Toronto homes before the Forces stepped in last year, revealing for the first time that causes other than COVID-19 hastened the deaths of residents as outbreaks spiralled out of control and staffing collapsed.

At Downsview Long Term Care Centre, where one in four residents succumbed to the virus, another 26 died from dehydration before a military team arrived last June to provide humanitarian and medical support.

At Hawthorne Place Care Centre, 51 residents died of COVID-19 in the 269-bed facility. The military says it suspects those fatalities pale in comparison to deaths from other causes. “Residents are dying from non-COVID-19 causes more than they should be.”

The allegation of deaths because of dehydration is “not only troubling but potentially criminal,” Amber Irwin, a spokeswoman for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, said in an e-mail on Sunday.

According to figures published by the provincial government, 3,762 long-term care residents in Ontario have died of COVID-19. But no one is tracking the number of fatalities from other causes during the pandemic.

The reports on Downsview and Hawthorne were submitted to the independent commission that examined the devastating impact of the coronavirus on residents in long-term care homes but have not been made public. ...

Sixty-five residents of Downsview died of COVID-19 last spring, ranking the home the third-hardest hit in Ontario.

“We will always grieve for those who died last year,” said Mr. Balcom, adding that the home now has a new senior management team. “We never want anyone – residents, family members and staff – to experience what happened at Downsview and across the province last year.”

At Hawthorne Place, residents have died because of dehydration and malnourishment, the military says. When members of the Armed Forces arrived at the home, the report says, they found “feces and vomit” on the floors and walls, two residents with dried feces under their fingernails and management that was “non-existent.”


Ford is now in hiding in an attempt to improve his public image. How pathetic!

Premier Doug Ford’s notable absence from the public eye over the past few weeks is part of an effort to protect him from negative pandemic news and rehabilitate his image, CTV News Toronto has learned, after the government suffered severe blowback from recent third wave decisions.

Multiple sources, speaking confidentially to discuss internal strategic thinking, say the Premier’s Office has been looking to change the channel on Ford’s pandemic faults by allowing ministers and public health officials to “wear” the decisions that they make or recommend.

The effort has led to scant appearances from a premier who had captured the public’s attention throughout the pandemic with months of daily news conferences long after his federal and provincial counterparts had pulled back on their public announcements.

While sources say the goal has always been to ensure Ford is less exposed to COVID-19-related controversy, the April 16 news conference – in which the government gave police sweeping new enforcement powers and closed play grounds – seems to have given Ford’s office the path to pull back.

The government faced a firestorm of criticism for those decisions and was quickly forced to backtrack, but not before damaging its reputation in public opinion polls. “The whole world went upside down on us,” one source confided, pointing to negative public opinion polling in the aftermath of the decisions.

A recent poll by Innovative Research, conducted in the wake of the controversy, found 76 per cent of respondents said they were aware of something the premier had said or done and 48 per cent admitted to having a less favourable impression of Ford.

“There was a realization to protect the king,” another Progressive Conservative insider said, suggesting the premier might be knocked down to a single news conference or appearance per week.


Ford's humungous omnibus Bill 197 that rewrites environmental assessment laws is heading to court because he did not consult with Ontarians as required by law. It is being challenged in three ways including by an indigenous group for failing to consult them.  

Hearings will begin Monday for three court challenges of the Ontario government’s contentious rewrite of environmental assessment rules.

The Ford government passed the omnibus Bill 197 last July without public consultation, despite a warning from Ontario’s auditor general that doing so could be “not compliant” with the law. The suits, launched by a group of First Nations and two separate coalitions of environmentalists last summer, will be heard at the same time this week.

“Whether Doug Ford likes it or not, the laws of this province require his government to consult Ontarians before making changes that impact our environment,” said Priyanka Vittal, who is legal counsel for Greenpeace Canada, one of the environmental groups challenging the law.

Bill 197, which the Ford government said was aimed at kick-starting Ontario’s economic recovery from COVID-19, tweaked 20 different pieces of legislation, including the changes to environmental assessments. Critics said the changes to environmental assessments amounted to a significant rollback of environmental protections.

The bill also expanded the province’s power to use minister’s zoning orders, or MZOs, a special directive that allows Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark to make an unappealable decision about how land can be used. From 2018 to 2020, the Ford government has used MZOs to fast-track developments on sites involving environmental concerns 14 times, a National Observer investigation found earlier this year.

Under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, the government must consult the public for 30 days about measures that impact the environment. It’s also required to post notices of such changes on the province’s environmental registry.

The government posted notices on the registry, but did not hold consultations about Bill 197 before passing it, writing a clause into the legislation that would retroactively exempt it from the requirement. 

The first court challenge of Bill 197 was filed by the environmental law charity Ecojustice, which is representing Greenpeace and the Wilderness Committee. The groups are asking a judge in Ontario Divisional Court to find that the province acted illegally and order Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives to go back and consult the public. ...

“This government has repeatedly pushed an anti-environment agenda while cutting Ontarians out of the decision-making process,” Ecojustice lawyer Ian Miron said in a statement.

A second court case was filed by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), which is representing the conservation group Earthroots, non-profit Ontario Nature, a 16-year-old climate activist named Cooper Price, and Michel Koostachin, who was born and raised in Attawapiskat, a First Nations community in northern Ontario. Earthroots is led by Gord Miller, who was Ontario's environmental commissioner from 2000 to 2015.

The third challenge was filed by the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Attawapiskat First Nation, Chapleau Cree First Nation, Eagle Lake First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Magnetawan First Nation, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Temagami First Nation and the Teme-Augama Anishnabai community. 

The groups are arguing that the government’s decision to push through Bill 197 without consulting First Nations violated treaty rights. 

“What makes this historic for First Nations is that we are saying the new laws are unconstitutional, not just because we were not consulted, but because the new law sets back reconciliation, harms First Nations, and violates the honour of the Crown,” says Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Grand Chief Joel Abram in a statement.


Migrant farm workers in two counties in Ontario are being discriminated against and suffering from racism by being refused " “limited and monitored outdoor time” as long as they wear a mask and have no symptoms of COVID-19." according to federal rules for international travellers, just another sign that they are part of Canada's underclass. Even prisoners have more rights.  Since the counties have forbidden farm workers from being housed in bunkhouses on farms, the farmers have put them in hotels rather than spend the money for single occupant rooms. But only Haldimand and Norfolk counties are doing this.

This isn't working as the number of infections is outpacing the rate that occurred last year over the same period and the migrant worker season has barely begun. 

[Trinidadian Jeremiah] Sovigno is among thousands of workers who will arrive to work on farms in Haldimand and Norfolk counties this season. But many of his fellow migrant workers say they are enduring quarantine conditions that advocates are calling cruel and inhumane.

Migrant workers in these two counties are being treated differently than how Canada treats other international travellers. Under federal rules, travellers arriving from abroad are allowed “limited and monitored outdoor time” as long as they wear a mask and have no symptoms of COVID-19.

Since March, at least five migrant workers have died since arriving in Canada, including four who were in quarantine, according to the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, an advocacy group calling for an investigation to determine the causes of the deaths.

The alliance and other advocates say there is blatant discrimination and racism in how workers in Haldimand and Norfolk are being treated and that their basic human rights are being violated.

“Denying migrant workers access to fresh air during quarantine is inhumane. It’s simply abusive,” says Fay Faraday, a labour and human rights lawyer who has worked with migrant workers for 30 years. “All human beings need access to fresh air for their physical and mental well-being and to be locked in a hotel room with windows that don’t open for 14 days with no ability to go outside is cruel and unusual punishment.”

Global News has identified at least four hotels that have housed quarantining migrant farm workers in Brantford, among a number of southern Ontario towns where workers have self-isolated. Three of them have no balconies, nor do they have windows that open.

He says no one has explained why they are not allowed to go outside for fresh air. ...

At the start of the pandemic, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit set limits on the number of workers allowed to quarantine in bunkhouses on farms due to living quarters that make it difficult to maintain physical distancing. This has forced most workers at 208 farms in the district to quarantine in hotels for the two-week period.

But the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is the only one in the region that has implemented a rule denying fresh air breaks during quarantine. Other neighbouring counties also bring in a large number of migrant workers without imposing similar restrictions.

The chief medical officer who introduced the rule, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, declined to give Global News an interview about his decision. ...

Between January and April, a total of 410 seasonal agricultural workers arrived to work on farms in Haldimand-Norfolk, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. That number will continue to rise, as April and May bring in the most arrivals, the department said in a statement. ...

The local health unit estimates 4,000 migrant farm workers in total are destined for farms in Norfolk and Haldimand counties this year. ...

For many workers, this might not be the last time they have to go through a two-week quarantine period with no access to fresh air. If the farm they work at experiences an outbreak, they will have to go through it all over again.

Kevin Daniels, a seasonal worker who’s been coming to Canada for nine years, says he has had trouble sleeping since spending 14 days inside a hotel room last November. He went into quarantine after the farm he worked on experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. He was among 87 of his colleagues who were forced to quarantine after 13 workers tested positive for the virus, according to Arnal.

“The internet system was poor so you cannot connect with family members,” he says. “It was the first time experiencing winter and then you had to be locked up in a room, couldn’t go outside, exercise, anything. You’re locked up in a room that hasn’t been cleaned in 14 days, the food is horrible, and now I have a serious sleeping condition from November until now.” ...

According to Ontario’s plan to prevent and manage outbreaks on farms released last November, migrant farm workers “did not bring the virus to Ontario but rather contracted it after they arrived.” It cited the housing accommodations provided to workers and an inability to social distance that drove the spread of the virus in the region last year, not workers coming in from abroad. ...

It is up to employers to provide workers with accommodations, food and other necessary supplies during workers’ quarantine. Both the Ontario and federal governments have provided financial support to farmers to help offset costs. The federal government offers employers $1,500 per worker to cover costs related to the mandatory 14-day isolation period. Employers can also apply for additional funding “for improvements to employee living quarters, temporary or emergency housing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other health and safety measures.” ...

Despite having a year to respond and improve conditions for seasonal workers arriving, migrant rights advocates say the federal government has again put workers in harm’s way. “The fact that they haven’t figured out how to ensure that this is a humane process shows where their priorities are and the priorities are not ensuring the well-being of the essential workers,” says Faraday.

“The federal government, despite us raising this cry now for 15 months, has refused to enact specific guidelines around how quarantine is structured, including the right to fresh air,” says Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “They’ve consistently issued suggestions which are not enforceable, not by migrants and not by anybody else.” The organization is calling on the federal government to put in place enforceable guidelines around mobility, adequate and culturally appropriate meals, access to phones, health care and support “to ensure workers have access to basic rights and protections.”

In addition to isolating for two weeks, workers undergo multiple COVID-19 tests before and after arriving in Canada. Workers must test negative before getting on the plane. They are then tested upon arrival, 72 hours later, and then again eight days later. Workers must test negative in order to leave quarantine and go to a farm to work. They are also offered the COVID-19 vaccine upon arrival at the airport, but are still required to quarantine for two weeks.

Hussan says the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change has heard accounts of migrant workers being denied fresh air across the country, despite public health guidelines.

“This is a result of federal inaction and the public health unit. Haldimand-Norfolk is in no way an exception. The buck stops with Prime Minister Trudeau’s door,” says Hussan. “The fact that people are feeling that they are being treated worse than animals is because they don’t have the power to speak up and that power is being taken away from them because they are temporary. That’s why we have been calling on the federal government to ensure full and permanent immigration status for every migrant and undocumented person in the country.” ...

Last year, between March 2020 and Dec. 31, there were 3,232 COVID-19 outbreaks on farms or at food processing workplaces in Ontario. This year, there have already been 2,486 outbreaks in just four months, according to provincial data. “We are talking about huge numbers that continue to grow,” says Hussan. “And the season has barely begun.”

This year, there have been 30 farm outbreaks in Haldimand and Norfolk counties, according to the health unit.


Last summer Ford promised air-conditioning in ltc homes. It hasn't happened

"Palliative care Dr Amit Arya said it 'makes no sense that the province hasn't introduced system-wide change, especially following scathing reports from the military and the ltc commission about the deplorable conditions in homes and dehydration and neglect of residents..."

Just another lying politician full of shit and false promises.

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laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Here in Manitoba companies like Rivera who run LTC homes (and had the worst track record of COVID-19 incidences) charge from $1,500 (maybe shared room) to $3,000 (private room with kitchenette) a month. That's a great deal of coin being made by the owners. Surely they could pour in more of their profits into improving facilites and services.


They could if they were compelled to and/or regulated correctly as they should be.


The Ford government's plan to increase the number of nurses and personal care attendants in long-term care (LTC) facilities  is not sufficient to deal with the problems in these homes that were revealed by the thousands of deaths in LTC according to the legislature’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO), even if fully implemented after four years. However, since there is no significant increase before the 2022 election "critics say most people now in long-term care won’t live to see it." (

Ontario’s plan to hire 27,000 more nurses and personal support workers to provide four hours of daily hands-on care for nursing home residents within four years isn’t enough to get the job done, an independent watchdog warns in a new report.

The legislature’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) said new nursing homebeds being built over the next few years mean at least 37,000 additional nurses, registered practical nurses and PSWs will be required “for the province to meet its long-term care commitments.”

Wednesday’s report measured spending plans from the Ministry of Long-Term Care against promises from Premier Doug Ford’s government — which has been under fire for the heavy toll of COVID-19 in nursing homes — to boost the care standard from about 2.7 hours a day.

Opposition parties pounced on the findings, which included an estimate that the number of Ontarians over age 75 will rise by 52 per cent in the next decade versus a projected increase of 38 per cent in nursing home beds, raising the possibility that long waiting lists for nursing homes could grow longer. ...

The FAO found the 30,000 new nursing home beds promised by 2030 “will likely not be sufficient to keep pace with the growing demand for long-term care from Ontario’s growing and aging population.”

Increasing the beds and hours of care, both described as “significant commitments” in the report, will add an estimated $5 billion in annual costs by the end of the decade, the accountability office noted — more than doubling the $4.4 billion the Ministry of Long-Term Care spent last fiscal year.

That means the government’s commitment to meet the needs of the province’s seniors is insufficient, said New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath. 

Ford’s government “just doesn’t want to spend the money to fix these problems and give nursing home residents the care, attention and quality of life they deserve,” said Horwath.

With the next provincial election just a year away, her party has pledged to create 50,000 new beds within eight years and would take the system public to eliminate private, for-profit operators of homes.

Almost 4,000 nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in Ontario, and more than 15,000 were infected as the virus spread like wildfire until a vaccination regime took hold earlier this year, dramatically lowering the amount of illness and death in residents and staff alike. ...

Infections and absences of staff last year led to horrific conditions for residents of a number of nursing homes, dropping staff levels in the worst cases to less than 20 per cent. That left vulnerable residents unfed or forcefully fed, sitting in soiled diapers for hours or days, dehydrated and crying for help, according to a report from Canadian Armed Forces medical teams that were called in to assist.  ...

The four-hour care standard has been recommended for a decade but it took the COVID-19 crisis for the long-standing problem to come to a head.


Doug Ford announced that he will use the notwithstanding clause to restore changes to election finance law that a judge declared unconstitutional this week. This would be the first time in Ontario's history that the notwithstanding clause has been used. Aimed at unions and activists opposed to the government, the law would extend the restricted pre-election spending period to 12 months, making it impossible for them to use their right to free speech in spending for a year before the election.

The Ontario government will invoke the notwithstanding clause to restore changes to election finance law that a judge declared unconstitutional this week, a move critics quickly labelled as a power grab intended to sway next year's provincial election. Government House Leader Paul Calandra said legislators would be recalled from their summer break on Thursday so the government can introduce legislation on the matter. ...

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Morgan ruled on Tuesday that it was unnecessary to amend the Election Finances Act to extend the restricted pre-election spending period to 12 months. His ruling meant sections of the law involved in the court challenge were no longer in effect, with the next provincial election scheduled for June 2, 2022.

The government had doubled the restricted pre-election spending period to 12 months but kept the $600,000 limit on third-party political advertisement spending the same. Morgan wrote that the six-month period achieved the same aims and found that the government did not provide any justification for doubling it.

A group of unions had argued that the changes would restrict their free speech in the lead-up to the election, while the attorney general had argued that the changes were necessary to protect democratic elections from outside influence.

critics said the planned use of the notwithstanding clause by Doug Ford's government was undemocratic itself.

Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which acted as an intervener in the case, said the move amounts to an abuse of power not seen under any previous Ontario government."Given the subject of the law, and its impact on the next provincial election, this is a cravenly self-interested abuse of this extraordinary power," Bryant said. "Changing the election rules to favour an incumbent government is unconstitutional, and undemocratic."

Ford's government threatened to use the notwithstanding clause in 2018 over plans to cut the number Toronto city council seats but did not proceed because of how the court process on the matter unfolded.

Unions representing elementary, secondary and Catholic school teachers, which were involved in the court challenge, called the government's plan "an attack on democracy that should concern everyone. By invoking this rarely used clause to bolster their position, it is clear the Progressive Conservatives of Ontario are gravely concerned that their critics' voices will be heard, and that voters will be reminded of their repeated failures leading up to the June 2022 election," the group said in a joint statement. ...

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she was "shocked and disgusted" by the move, calling it a "desperate plan to override the rights of Ontarians" and silence Ford's critics while people in the province are still struggling through a pandemic. She said her team would meet on Wednesday afternoon to come up with a strategy. "We don't know what tools we might have, how long we might be able to keep up the fight, but we will fight for every minute of every day to try to prevent this from happening," Horwath said.



Ford has shuffled his cabinet including shuffling "beleaguered" Long-Term Care minister Merilee Fullerton with Rod Phillips, who himself had to leave cabinet because of his secret Caribbean vacation at the one of the Covid pandemic peaks when travel was forbidden. Fullerton's new job is Minister of Children and Youth and Community Services, which tells you how much Ford values young people and community services. Several other ministers were thrown out of cabinet, making one wonder how bad their performance had to be when Fullerton and Phillips are there now. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is replacing Merilee Fullerton, his beleaguered Long-Term Care minister, with Rod Phillips, who was forced out of cabinet late last year after taking a vacation to a ritzy Caribbean island in secret when the Canadian public was being told not to travel.

Ford’s office confirmed the cabinet shuffle on Friday afternoon, which comes as Ford ejected several rural cabinet ministers in favour of several younger, diverse members of caucus. ...

Fullerton oversaw a ten-month long ordeal where hundreds of long-term care homes suffered major COVID-19 outbreaks, killing nearly 4,000 residents and at least 12 staff members. She will now become Minister of Children and Youth and Community Services. She was widely criticized for her response to the pandemic’s impact on congregate care settings during the first and second waves of the pandemic in Ontario, with a commission finding there was no established plan to protect long-term care residents from the threat of a pandemic.

Phillips was Ford’s second finance minister until December, when it was revealed he took a vacation to the posh French colonial outpost of Saint Barthélemy, with staff posting social media videos to suggest he was still in Ontario at the time. Federal guidance at the time advised all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel abroad. ...

He resigned in disgrace after an impromptu apology broadcast live from Pearson airport upon his return.

In addition, ministers Jeff Yurek, Ernie Hardeman, Laurie Scott and John Yakabuski are now out of cabinet altogether. Ross Romano, formerly colleges and universities minister, will become Government and Consumer Services Minister. Jill Dunlop will replace Romano in the post-secondary education file.

After receiving word that Phillips will also help craft the Ontario PC’s 2022 election platform, the opposition NDP said he was a “bad choice. Doug Ford kept Rod Phillips near and dear to him even after his elaborate St. Barts vacation cover-up. Phillips jetted off to luxurious St. Barts, covering up his tracks as he went with pre-written messages, pre-recorded Christmas greetings, and a fake Zoom background, while the rest of Ontario hunkered down and followed public health advice to stay home over the holiday,” the party said Friday. 

Joining cabinet in full roles for the first time are Stan Cho, who becomes Associate Minister of Transportation, Prabmeet Sakaria, who becomes President of the Treasury Board, Parm Gill, who becomes Citizenship and Immigration Minister and Dave Piccini, who becomes Minister of Environment. Also joining cabinet are Khaleed Rasheed as Associate Minister of Digital Government and Nina Tangri as Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape reduction.


The Ford government has also used the notwithstanding clause to push the controversial bill through the Ontario legislature that limits third-party election advertising for a year before the election despite it being found unconstitional. The law was primarily aimed preventing at union and social activist groups broadcasting ads against the Ford government. 

Bill 307, which used the notwithstanding clause to reintroduce parts of a law struck down by a judge last week, passed Monday by a margin of 63 votes to 47. The clause allows legislatures to override portions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a five-year term. A judge found it was unconstitutional for the government to double the restricted pre-election spending period for third-party advertisements to 12 months before an election call.

The Progressive Conservative government argued the extended restriction was necessary to protect elections from outside influence. The bill passed Monday afternoon after a marathon weekend debate in which opposition politicians argued the government was trying to silence criticism ahead of next June's provincial election.

"It's obviously a move from a man who's desperate to cling to power," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. The New Democrats spent the day trying to drag out the process by introducing a variety of motions on pandemic-related issues they argued should be the focus of the sitting. Ford said earlier on Monday that he wouldn't be swayed. ...

Unions had argued the limit infringed on their rights to free speech, but the attorney general argued the changes were necessary to protect elections from outside influence. The government reintroduced the bill with the override clause last week, and held a marathon debate over the weekend.


A new Angus Reid poll finds the NDP within the margin of error just 4% behind the PCs and 11% ahead of the Liberals. With the lowest score on provincial government performance, it is not surprising that the popularity of the PCs has fallen


NDP and PCPO neck and neck

 The challenges of the past 16 months have put Premier Ford’s party in a difficult place politically. With an expected election now less than one year away (June 2, 2022), the incumbent party holds a tight four-point lead over the Ontario NDP under opposition leader Andrea Horwath. A lot can change in a year. As it stands today, Ontario Liberal supporters may well hold the outcome in their hands:


Calling math racist. How racist can you get? I guess the Ford government doesn't like what the numbers on income inequality, racial wealth gaps, and their programs say about them. So they invented a Grade 9 curriculum that said math is "racist and subjective". Fortunately,  after initially defending the statement, it didn't last long because they were looking like complete racist idiots.

The Ford government has quietly deleted a section of the Grade 9 math curriculum that said math was subjective and racist and requires a decolonial approach in how it is taught.

News of the radical language in the curriculum was first reported by the Sun on Saturday. At the time, the government defended the language that appeared in the preamble to the revised curriculum.

But by late Tuesday, it had been removed. A government official confirmed on background that the deletion had been made at the request of Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

The Ford government unveiled its new math curriculum on June 9. Part of the impetus was getting rid of the old method of academic streaming which too often saw Black students directed towards applied math instead of the academic stream.

That system was seen as discriminating against Black students.

A government official said that the language found in the preamble, which informs how teachers should present a subject, went too far.

“Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions,” the curriculum stated.

That language has now been removed along with claims that math is subjective rather than objective.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

jerrym wrote:

Calling math racist. How racist can you get? I guess the Ford government doesn't like what the numbers on income inequality, racial wealth gaps, and their programs say about them. So they invented a Grade 9 curriculum that said math is "racist and subjective". Fortunately,  after initially defending the statement, it didn't last long because they were looking like complete racist idiots.

The Ford government has quietly deleted a section of the Grade 9 math curriculum that said math was subjective and racist and requires a decolonial approach in how it is taught.

News of the radical language in the curriculum was first reported by the Sun on Saturday. At the time, the government defended the language that appeared in the preamble to the revised curriculum.

But by late Tuesday, it had been removed. A government official confirmed on background that the deletion had been made at the request of Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

The Ford government unveiled its new math curriculum on June 9. Part of the impetus was getting rid of the old method of academic streaming which too often saw Black students directed towards applied math instead of the academic stream.

That system was seen as discriminating against Black students.

A government official said that the language found in the preamble, which informs how teachers should present a subject, went too far.

“Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions,” the curriculum stated.

That language has now been removed along with claims that math is subjective rather than objective.

This all seems very strange to me. The problematic statement is "Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions". If I read that statement without any attribution, and tried to say who disagreed with it and why, I would say that conservatives were complaining. Their complaint would seem to be the common one, that wokeism and critical race theory were being used in schools to make white kids feel guilty and hate their parents.

But the article doesn't put it that way. Instead the language, which had the stated intent of decreasing race based streaming in math, is regarded by the author, and the poster, as being racist. I don't understand this whole situation.


Michael Moriarity wrote:

jerrym wrote:

Calling math racist. How racist can you get? I guess the Ford government doesn't like what the numbers on income inequality, racial wealth gaps, and their programs say about them. So they invented a Grade 9 curriculum that said math is "racist and subjective". Fortunately,  after initially defending the statement, it didn't last long because they were looking like complete racist idiots.

This all seems very strange to me. The problematic statement is "Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions". If I read that statement without any attribution, and tried to say who disagreed with it and why, I would say that conservatives were complaining. Their complaint would seem to be the common one, that wokeism and critical race theory were being used in schools to make white kids feel guilty and hate their parents.

But the article doesn't put it that way. Instead the language, which had the stated intent of decreasing race based streaming in math, is regarded by the author, and the poster, as being racist. I don't understand this whole situation.

I think the clue to the strangeness of the quote is twofold: the PC government didn't want it to sound to Trumpite and the article itself is from the Toronto Sun, hardly noted for being anything but conservative and therefore tried to give the government the best of possible spins. 


To expand on what I said about the strangeness of the article, I refer to Timothy Snyder's comment in On Tyranny, in which he said 

Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.”

Mathematical facts are difficult to argue with unless you convince people that there are no facts, or at least that there are alternate facts. By framing mathematics as "subjective and racist", then you can indoctrinate young people to ignore evidence based on fact. The statement was not that numbers can be twisted to support a racist argument but that they are inherently racist and subjective. You can then dismiss any mathematical or scientific evidence as just another opinion, as has been so successfully done with global warming. If we can't agree on facts and have them influence decisions, guess who wins, the powerful or the weak? Gettting rid of streaming children into academic and non-academic courses is beneficial for everyone, not just Blacks. However, the reasons that this correlates most strongly with the parent's education and income, not with mathematics itself. The parents' expectations of their child relate to their own experience in school, their familiarity with how the educational system works which ties closely to how long one spends in the system, and the financial demands that push parents to get their children into the workforce quickly.

My father had me working at 13 because he dropped out of school in Grade 9 in 1930 when education meant nothing in terms of getting a job. I had to walk twenty minutes from school to the railway station, work as a porter, walk twenty minutes back to school, then return as soon as school closed to work the trains from 4PM to 9 PM. The only reason I didn't give up on school was everytime I saw my grandmother, who was a nurse, the first thing she did was place a dollar in my hand and say that was for my education.

The driving forces behind who gets streamed tie much more closely to family economic conditions and attitudes towards education framed by the individual's own experience in school, which for many people of colour was and is racist, than to mathematics itself. We have already seen in the US the consequences of dismissing empirical evidence as subjective when it comes to getting people vaccinated, climate change and evidence of the economic and social harm done by poverty and racism. As Snyder says "If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights." under those circumstances. 

Incidentally modern mathematics, or science for that matter, is not simply a Western construct but is built on the work of Sumerian, Egyptian, Indian, Arab Chinese, as well as Greek, mathematics. 


Ford has been seen less in publicly recently in an effort to protect his image among voters. 

Premier Doug Ford’s notable absence from the public eye over the past few weeks is part of an effort to protect him from negative pandemic news and rehabilitate his image, CTV News Toronto has learned, after the government suffered severe blowback from recent third wave decisions.

Multiple sources, speaking confidentially to discuss internal strategic thinking, say the Premier’s Office has been looking to change the channel on Ford’s pandemic faults by allowing ministers and public health officials to “wear” the decisions that they make or recommend.

The effort has led to scant appearances from a premier who had captured the public’s attention throughout the pandemic with months of daily news conferences long after his federal and provincial counterparts had pulled back on their public announcements.


There are more and more examples of Ford's government favouring its insiders and friends. 

A few months before the pandemic put life in Ontario on hold, Premier Doug Ford came under fire in the legislature for attending cash-for-access dinners and was accused of being swayed by business interests. ...

Never mind that Ford had cancelled his personal cellphone months earlier, reportedly because “special interest groups” were inundating him with calls. One-to-one direct-dial governance is a joke in a province of more than 14 million people.

Still, this episode clearly shows Ford’s mindset: “I’m the man in charge. Make your case to me and I’ll take care of it.”

There are people whose only job description is to get to the man in charge; they’re called lobbyists and the pandemic has certainly not put their jobs on hold. Indeed, Star investigations suggest lobbyists are helping direct quite a lot of government policy in Ontario.

Many of the Ford government’s decisions — too many not to raise eyebrows — have aligned with business interests represented by lobbyists with close ties to the premier and his party rather than with the public interest.

It’s happened in a range of areas, from pandemic rules for specific businesses to long-term-care homes to COVID testing to the development industry and Highway 413.

A Star analysis of registered lobbying activity shows a dozen lobbyists were able to deliver favourable results for their clients — even when those decisions flew in the face of sensible public health requirements and defied any sort of conventional logic.

There was the big-box store carve-out that allowed Walmart and Dollarama to keep selling all manner of products beyond “essentials” in the second wave when other retailers were closed to keep the virus from spreading. There were questionable rule changes, such as raising the limit on the number of people that TV and movie productions could have on-set even as schools and outdoor recreation closed. And rule additions, like the one that allowed Purolator to continue building a super-hub in the premier’s riding when most construction was barred.

Richard Warnica’s Hidden Influence series illustrates how the government was urged to make these and other decisions by lobbyists, working on behalf of the businesses that stood to gain, all of whom had close ties to Ford himself, the Progressive Conservative party, or both.

Well-connected lobbyists also helped secure big wins for long-term-care providers and their investors. Ontario jumped to fully fund long-term-care homes, no matter how many beds were empty on account of the appalling COVID death toll of residents. All the while for-profit homes were paying dividends to their shareholders. The government also rushed through legislation to shield those homes from class-action lawsuits by bereft family members.

In April, a Torstar/National Observer investigation laid out a troubling map of the ties between the government and some of the province’s most powerful land developers. It focused on Highway 413, which this government rescued from the dustbin where it rightly belongs. Eight developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate along the route, four are connected to Ford’s government through the head of the party’s fundraising arm or former politicians now acting as lobbyists, and most are significant PC donors.

And proving the pandemic hasn’t changed everything, Ford is once again under fire for cash-for-access fundraising. The NDP is raising alarms over “super fishy” donations from a developer surrounding a $1,600-a-ticket “intimate and candid” discussion with the premier.

Add it all up and it’s easy to see how the Ford government has earned its reputation for running a government for its friends rather than the people.


The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario received more than $50,000 in party donations from a single developer through a fundraiser dinner, raising strong questions about cash for access politics. 

It's a revelation that an opposition critic is calling a sign that the cash-for-access fundraising scandal has returned to Ontario, and comes on the heels of the PC government changing political donation laws earlier this year to allow bigger-money contributions.

An analysis of Elections Ontario's political contributions database by QP Briefing shows eight people with names matching those of executives at Empire Communities each donated an amount equivalent to two tickets to a June fundraiser — $3,200 — shortly before it was held, and another eight people who share a surname with the brothers who serve as president and CFO of the company did the same. The deposits were made over 11 days, from June 14 to 24, and total over $50,000. An ad for the June 24 fundraiser promised paying guests "an intimate and candid discussion" with Premier Doug Ford and MPP Rod Phillips over Zoom. ...

the NDP and the advocacy organization that helped uncover the pattern say it raises red flags.

"It would seem with these specific donations coming to light, that Doug Ford's found a backdoor way to allow his deep-pocketed donors to max out contributions, essentially, making it almost unlimited around how much these folks can donate to Doug Ford and his PC party," said ethics critic MPP Taras Natyshak, who described the situation as "super fishy. It just goes to show you who he's working for, and whose connections get access to the premier. First and foremost, it's those who are willing and able to pay those huge prices." Natyshak said he's concerned about the apparently co-ordinated pattern of the donations and he's calling on Ford to explain exactly what his relationship is with Empire Communities.

To be clear, there's nothing illegal under Ontario's campaign finance laws about co-ordinating donations. A spokesperson for Elections Ontario said that while donations from corporations are now illegal, contributions are allowed if they come from an individual who is "normally a resident in Ontario [and] using their own funds." ...

The Ford government eliminated a requirement brought in by the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government following its cash-for-access scandal that donors certify that the funds they've donated are their own. Elections Ontario will only investigate the source of donations if a complaint is made.

"This is a classic case of why we were concerned with those changes in the first place," said Natyshak. He also said the fundraiser in question is the same kind that caused the cash-for-access scandal for the last Liberal government — just on Zoom. "It's $1,000 to get face-to-face with the premier," he said. ...

Empire Communities is a residential developer that has built over 28,000 homes over the past 28 years in Ontario and the U.S. It recently announced plans to develop, build and operate purpose-built single-family and multi-family homes in Georgia, Texas and Ontario. The company was involved in a political donations controversy in Toronto when the premier's brother Rob Ford was mayor. The city's lobbyist registrar found the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) placed Rob Ford in a conflict of interest when it held a fundraising event at the home of Paul Golini Jr., a co-founder of Empire Communities and then chair of BILD, and collected about $20,000 in cheques to the mayor's campaign fund as part of its lobbying strategy. ...

Executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), Natalie Mehra, said what her group found is still concerning, including connections to developers, financial services companies and law firms, some of which have done work in the for-profit long-term care industry. That's why she sees a problem with the Ford government's decision to increase donation limits and loosen the campaign finance laws. ...