In response to a recent report on the high death rate of long-term care residents, Prime Minister Trudeau said that the provincial governments "failed to support seniors," according to Global News.
“I think one of the things that is very clear is our current system of supporting seniors across this country has not worked,” said Trudeau on Thursday, adding, “It is a provincial responsibility. So it is them that have failed to support our seniors,”
The report was published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The report discovered that 81 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada were residents of long-term care homes, whereas as all other countries studied had an average rate of 42 percent.
The study found that 5,324 Canadian seniors died in long-term care facilities as of May 25. Ontario and Quebec accounted for the bulk of provincial deaths. In Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, seniors accounted for over 70 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. In Nova Scotia, they accounted for 97 percent of the deaths.
In other countries, the numbers varied greatly. In Australia, only 28 seniors seniors have died from COVID-19 whereas in the United States, that number is over 30,000. France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. had over 10,000 seniors die from COVID-19.
"We need to do better for seniors, and the federal government is committed to doing more, whether it be through regulations that could be applied countrywide or other measures. We will work with provinces to improve the situation," said Trudeau, who later hinted at the idea that the federal government may propose new legislation to regulate LTC homes.
"We want to respect provincial jurisdictions, but I think we know that things need to change. Do we need national standards, or do the provinces just need to increase their standards significantly? These are conversations we can have with the premiers."
Those comments did not sit well with certain Premiers, in particular Ontario Premier Doug Ford who said that he was "a little shocked" by the Prime Minister's comments. Ford took a moment to acknowledge that overall Trudeau had been "pretty good" with cooperating to help the provinces to fight the pandemic but also told the Prime Minister, "Put your money where your mouth is. Support us because we can’t do it alone."
Future additional funding for LTC facilities from the federal government has been asked by Ford who said the "20-22 percent" Ontario currently receives isn't enough.
"We are putting the whole burden of the health-care system, which is massive in Ontario, on our shoulders," he said. "We need a real partnership."
An investigation has been launched by the Ontario ombudsman for an "independent commission" and will begin next month into why over 1,800 senior residents have died. The investigation is expected to begin sometime next month although no dates have been announced yet.
In Quebec, the Health Ministry announced that it will no longer provide daily reports about COVID-19 but instead will give weekly updates regarding the number of deaths, hospitalizations and new cases. So far, they are the only province to switch from daily updates to weekly ones. Quebec now has 54,937 active cases of COVID-19 and 5,448 deaths.
"I certainly hope that Premier [François] Legault would continue to be transparent and open with Quebecers and indeed with all Canadians as he has been from the very beginning," said Trudeau, after stating that transparency around COVID-19 information and statistics are at the discretion of each province.