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Nov. 26, 2020 | Thursday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Letting government take over nursing homes is not the answer

Dear editor:

Everyone knows for-profit nursing homes are responsible for the unnecessary death of several COVID patients in their care. Clearly there was and likely still is a problem. What was found when the military took over temporary control of several facilities was appalling and definitely contributed to many unnecessary deaths. 

So what do we do about it?

Our MPP Wayne Gates has called for the government to take over all nursing homes and by implication staff them with full-time unionized employees. Having failed to save jobs in the auto industry, he seems to found a new target.

Unfortunately he is ignoring the very poor job the government has done in protecting citizens of the province and the country. The solutions are still being ignored by government – rapid and expansive testing, contact tracing, social distancing, wearing masks, locking down isolated hot spots. So until they get the big picture right, if ever, let's not rush into letting them have a hand at running more nursing homes.

A reader has suggested that the profit motive is to blame. In a way he is right. Except that the role of government is to ensure the profit motive is controlled in such a way that society as a whole benefits. That explains why the standard of living rises as the economy expands.  

In the case of the for-profit nursing homes, there are regulations set by government to ensure safe and effective care.

However, government inspections to ensure compliance were not conducted properly. This is truly the key issue.

Why did the government inspectors not see any of the issues the military reported on? Who is accountable for this performance? What changes have been made to ensure ongoing compliance? What action has been taken to punish the owners and management responsible?

With this outrageous failure of government to inspect, why on earth would we give government full responsibility for these homes?

Mike Henry