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Families accuse Ontario long-term care home of denying loved ones hospital trips

LIAM CASEY THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

Several families say a long-term care home east of Toronto that’s been ravaged by COVID-19 told them a local hospital would not accept their loved ones who were sick with the disease.

The hospital, Lakeridge Health, said it would never refuse patients who need medical care, and the province said it has never suggested to long-term care homes that hospitals are to be avoided.

The home, Orchard Villa, said it routinely sent sick patients to the local hospital during the pandemic.

But two people whose family members contracted COVID-19 at Orchard Villa allege they hit resistance when they tried to get their loved ones the care they needed.

“It’s outrageous. We wanted him to go to the hospital, but they refused and treated him like a prisoner”

Cathy Parkes said she knew something was wrong with her father on April 11, her birthday. Paul Parkes had been living at Orchard Villa, in Pickering, Ont., since November, and the usually lucid 86-year-old seemed confused.

She thought he had an infection or was dehydrated, but was told it was a mild fever.

On April 14, Parkes asked to see her father, so a personal support worker helped wheel her father’s bed to the second-floor window.

“As soon as I saw him — He was on his back, he couldn’t open his mouth, couldn’t open his eyes, he seemed to be comatose,” Cathy Parkes said through tears.

“I got to tell him I love him. I knew then that he was really, really bad.”

She called Lakeridge Health with what she had just seen and her suspicion he had COVID-19. The hospital, she said, told her to call an ambulance to have her father taken there.

She said she spoke to the home’s assistant director, who said her father was fine.

“She said, ‘We’ve had people try to send relatives to the hospital, but the hospital won’t accept them,’” Parkes alleges.

Parkes pushed back, saying she had just spoken to the hospital and they were ready to accept her father.

“She said ‘Then they’re lying to you.’”

Confused and bewildered, Parkes relented that day. Around noon the next day, she took a call from Orchard Villa. Her father had died.

“It’s outrageous. We wanted him to go to the hospital, but they refused and treated him like a prisoner,” Parkes said.

That same week, Simon Nisbet had been visiting his 89-year-old mother, Doreen Nisbet, every day outside her window at Orchard Villa.

She had become confused and looked sick, he said, and he often saw her tray of food untouched.

“As soon as I saw him — He was on his back, he couldn’t open his mouth, couldn’t open his eyes, he seemed to be comatose”

But Nisbet said he struggled to get information about his mother’s health, and by this time, he had heard of resistance from the home to sending sick residents to the hospital.

On April 21, on order from the local public health unit, Lakeridge Health stepped in to take over the lead on monitoring, investigating and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak at Orchard Villa.

The next day, Nisbet took a call from Orchard Villa who said his mother had tested positive for COVID-19.

The hospital called soon after with concerns about his mother’s dropping blood pressure, and he decided to get her out of Orchard Villa.

He called the home and told a woman who answered the phone he was taking his mom to the hospital.

“`They say, ‘Oh really, I don’t think so,’” he said. “Then I said, ‘I’m standing right outside and she’s going to the hospital.’”

The home complied and Nisbet’s mother was sent to the hospital.

She survived, but Nisbet said her kidneys were damaged from dehydration.

“It’s neglect,” he said.

Jason Gay, the executive director of Orchard Villa, did not directly respond to allegations the home refused to send sick residents to the hospital.

“Over the course of the outbreak, 26 residents were taken in by Lakeridge Health hospital and a few residents remain in this hospital receiving care,” he said.

He said staff, in consultation with the resident’s physician, evaluate whether hospitalization is needed, unless it is an emergency.

“If a resident requires hospital care, the registered staff or doctor will reach out to the hospital and have a discussion,” he said. “This is standard practice.”

A spokeswoman for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, said “at no point throughout this pandemic has the Chief Medical Officer of Health or our government suggested” sick patients not be taken to hospital.

“The decision of whether to send long-term care residents who have COVID-19 to hospital is made on a case-by-case basis by a physician in consultation with the resident and their family,” Gillian Sloggett said.

“If residents who tested positive for COVID-19 require medical attention that the long-term care home is unable to provide, these residents are transferred to hospital to meet their health-care needs.”

Lakeridge Health, for its part, said it is “always ready to provide care to any person who comes to us,” though a spokeswoman declined to comment on specific cases.

Visits to Ontario long-term care, retirement and group homes resume

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

Visits to loved ones in Ontario long-term care, group homes and retirement homes are set to resume Thursday amid the COVID-19 pandemic but under strict conditions.

Last week, Premier Doug Ford said the province would allow the “cautious” restart of visits to homes that are not currently experiencing an outbreak.

“We need families to be able to see their loved ones and today we are taking the first steps to help reunite families,” Ford said. “We must move forward but we must do it so carefully.”

The following conditions will be in place:

For long-term care homes:

  • One visitor per resident at a maximum of one visit per week for an outdoor visit only

 

Retirement homes:

  • Outdoor and indoor visits, with the number of visitors being left to the discretion of the home

 

All visitors:

  • Must have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past two weeks and passed an active screening questionnaire
  • Hands must be washed and/or sanitized upon arrival and departure
  • All visitors must wear a mask, stay in designated areas and maintain physical distancing

What does ‘Defund The Police’ mean today, tomorrow and next year?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s a slogan gathering steam, and support — but not enough support to make it practical. Yet. What don’t people understand about the phrase and the options on the table for police reform, which range from abolishment of the police, to superficial changes that advocates say won’t make much of a difference?

How well do we understand what needs to happen next? And what reforms can actually make a difference now?

GUEST: Monica Bell, associate professor of law and sociology, Yale University

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify.

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Ontario drivers see average of $150 savings; minister says more should be done

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

Insurance companies have provided $685 million in relief to Ontario drivers using their cars less during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the province’s finance minister says more should be done.

The regulatory body says about 70 per cent of policy holders are receiving some form of relief, with an average savings of $150.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority says the $685 million in relief amounts to about five per cent of the total annual premiums Ontario drivers pay.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips says 10 out of the 14 major insurance companies have provided rebates to customers.

Phillips announced a regulatory change in April to enable the companies to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the emergency has ended.

Phillips says he will look at the companies not supporting their customers and will publicly name them if necessary.

“`I believe there’s still more that can be done,” he said in an interview. “I don’t believe all of the companies are participating at the level that they should.”

Phillips has said rebates should be commensurate with the scale of difficulty Ontario families are facing.

“People made it clear they weren’t driving as much, there were fewer accidents,” he said. “I made it clear to the insurance industry we wanted them to take care of their clients during this difficult time.”

The NDP has called on the Ontario government to mandate a three-month, 50 per cent discount on auto insurance.

4 injured after wheel falls off tractor-trailer on Hwy. 401, hitting other vehicles

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

Four people are injured after a wheel came off a tractor-trailer on Highway 401 in Scarborough and struck other vehicles.

It happened on the westbound express lanes at McCowan Road around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Paramedics told 680 NEWS two males and two females were injured, including a teenage girl who suffered very serious and possibly life-threatening injuries.

The teen was a passenger in one of the four vehicles struck by the wheel.

The female driver of that vehicle also suffered serious head injuries.

NDP support for spending bill assures no election in midst of pandemic

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces a confidence vote Wednesday but there’s little chance his minority Liberal government will fall in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau assured the support of New Democrat MPs by announcing Tuesday that his government is extending the $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit for another eight weeks.

In return for extending the CERB, a spokeswoman for the NDP, Melanie Richer, said New Democrat MPs will vote in favour this evening of the supplementary spending estimates — some $87 billion in planned, primarily pandemic-related, government spending.

Only about $6 billion actually involves new spending; the other $81 billion has already been approved by Parliament.

Because the Liberals hold only a minority of seats in the House of Commons, they need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to pass legislation and avoid defeat on confidence votes.

Any bill involving government spending is typically considered a confidence matter. A government that fails to win a vote of confidence in the Commons is deemed defeated, which would plunge the country into an election.

The NDP’s support for the supplementary estimates precludes that scenario for today at least.

“The prime minister says he has heard us and is extending support through CERB through the summer,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement.

“This is what we were calling for in the short term. We’ll keep working to make sure help is there for Canadians who need it in the long term.”

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet also sounded Tuesday like his party would not vote against the spending estimates, although the Bloc has recently joined the Conservatives in demanding a full resumption of the Commons, among other demands, before supporting any government initiative.

“No one wants to send 20 million Canadians to line up to vote while we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.

Trudeau announced Tuesday that the CERB will be extended to a maximum of 24 weeks instead of 16 weeks for people who lost their jobs or saw their hours slashed due to the pandemic.

The extension means the first cohort of applicants who signed up in April and were set to max out their payment periods in early July, won’t have to worry if they have no jobs to go back to over the summer or are unable to work because their health is precarious.

While the supplementary estimates seem poised to pass, there is still no resolution to an emergency aid bill that stalled last week without sufficient opposition support.

That bill included measures to deliver a one-time, tax-free benefit of up to $600 to Canadians with disabilities. It would also expand the wage subsidy program to include more seasonal workers and businesses and would impose fines or jail time on Canadians who deliberately defraud the CERB program.

The government needed unanimous consent to quickly pass the bill in a matter of hours last Wednesday but none of the opposition parties would support it. It then offered to deal with the disability benefit separately, which was supported by the NDP and the Bloc but the Conservatives blocked that idea.

The bill is still on the order paper and the government could theoretically try again today but officials say that isn’t in the cards.

Instead, the government is now trying to work out other ways to deliver the disability benefit and other measures without needing legislation.

What does the future of the U.S.-Canada border look like?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s been closed to all but essential travel for months, and polls show most Canadians want it closed for a good while longer. The border is the most visible symbol of the increasingly divergent paths taken by Canada and the United States—paths that began before COVID-19 struck.

In the 208 year history of the “longest undefended border,” the experience of crossing has changed several times, and each event has left a lasting impact. What does the future hold for the relationship between the two neighbours, the border itself and the communities that live on either side of it?

GUEST: Alex Bitterman, professor at Alfred State College of Technology at The State University of New York; Contributor, The Conversation

Majority of Canadians feel racism prevalent in policing: pol

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

A majority of Canadians feel there is “a lot” of racism in Canadian police forces today, according to an Abacus Data poll commissioned by CityTV.

The poll surveyed 1,750 Canadians between June 5 and 10 and found that most Canadians believe the police treat Black and Indigenous people with more suspicion than other groups to at least some degree and that police are more likely to use force and give them harsher punishments than others.

Note: The poll has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.31 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

From those surveyed, only six per cent feel they are treated with more suspicion by police frequently, but 25 per cent say both Black and Indigenous people are frequently treated that way and 20 per cent also believe each group is given more severe punishments frequently.

Twenty-four per cent believe that police are frequently inclined to consider using or do use force against Indigenous people and 22 per cent believe the same for Black people.

Overall, less than 20 per cent of the people polled felt police were not more likely to exhibit any of those three behaviours towards Black and Indigenous people.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah from the University of Toronto says the results of the poll are not surprising given the scrutiny the issue of race and policing has been under in recent weeks and represents an increase of awareness among Canadians.

“White Canadians 20 years ago were not as in tune with the presence of discrimination within policing as clearly this survey has demonstrated they are now,” he tells CityNews. “The changing attitudes among Canadians on a whole has come, not as a response to any drastic changes in policing … but increased attention to the problems that have been well known to those that have been impacted for a long time.”

Note: the following data has a margin of error of +/- 9.0 per cent for Black respondents, +/- 2.9 per cent for White respondents and +/- 5.0 per cent for immigrants.

While the poll found that only six per cent of all Canadians feel they have experienced “a lot” of discrimination in police treatment, 23 per cent of Black people and 25 per cent of Indigenous people feel this to be the case.

Nine per cent each of immigrants and Muslims feel they have experienced a lot of discrimination by the police. Seven per cent of Asians and four per cent of white people feel the same way.

The poll also reveals a disparity between how the majority of Canadians feel Black people are treated by police and how Black people themselves feel they are treated.

Twenty-five per cent of Canadians feel Black people are frequently treated with more suspicion by police whereas 53 per cent of Black people feel this to be the case. Similarly 22 per cent of respondents feel police are frequently inclined to consider the use of force against Black people whereas 52 per cent of Black people feel the same. In terms of punishment, only 20 per cent of respondents felt police were frequently inclined to lay more severe charges against Black people, while 46 per cent of Black people felt this way.

“Where you stand and your position influences how you see things,” says Owusu-Bempah. “On the policing side there might be a tendency to look at these behaviours in isolation … so often we hear from people within policing that these are the actions of bad apples instead of what we might call a rotten tree or a systemic problem.”

However, for the public, the situation has gone beyond isolated incidents, he says.

“We’re seeing patterns of behaviour involving largely Black and Indigenous people in the country and I think the public are awakening to the fact that these are part of systemic patterns that have existed across our history,” says Owusu-Bempah.

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