Ombudsman launches investigation into oversight in long-term care homes

(© Can Stock Photo / akiyoko)

Ontario’s Ombudsman plans to investigate how the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Health handled COVID-19 in long-term care homes.

Both ministries received notice of the investigation Monday.

Of the province’s 2,276 deaths as of Monday, 1,445 have been in long-term care homes. A recent report by Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed to five facilities detailed severe neglect and abuse.

Ombudsman Paul Dube said he took the initiative to launch an investigation after those troubling details emerged.

“The Canadian Armed Forces report painted a stunning portrait of the situation in long-term care during this crisis,” he said. “Our investigation will look at the systemic issues that led to it, and will make constructive recommendations for corrective action.”

Investigators will review the ministries’ standards and policies for long-term care homes during the pandemic, along with oversight measures to ensure compliance.

They will examine how complaints were handled, inspections carried out, emergency planning, and what steps were taken to support those facilities during the COVID-19 crisis. That will include collecting data on COVID-19 cases, rates of infection and deaths, and how staff, residents, and the public communicate.

There is no time frame for the investigation, but Dube said it would proceed as efficiently as circumstances permit.

“My entire office and I are working remotely, and we recognize that these ministries, in particular, are facing significant challenges at this time,” he said.

Anyone with information relevant to long-term care oversight is asked to file a complaint online or by emailing info@ombudsman.on.ca. Complaints about long-term care homes should continue to be made to the Patient Ombudsman.