Class action launched over long-term care COVID-19 deaths at Extendicare

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A company that manages four long-term care homes in Windsor-Essex and four more in the London area is facing a $200-million class action.

Two Toronto lawfirms, Thomson Rogers and Will Davidson LLP, are working on behalf of residents in all facilities operated by Extendicare over the deaths of residents during the pandemic.

In Windsor-Essex, the long-term care homes are Southwood Lakes – Extendicare, Tecumseh – Extendicare, Country Village in Woodslee, and Paramed – Windsor.

Chelsey Park is also operated by the company, along with Extendicare – London, Paramed – London, and Paramed – Stratford.

Extendicare either owns or operates 71 facilities across the province, but the action is centred on deaths at a home in Scarborough, Tendercare Living Centre. As of January 11, the lawfirms say 73 residents had passed away of COVID-19 at that facility.

“I believe my family deserves to know what happened to my grandmother,” said Reed Zhao, the grandson of Ping Qiu. “We were not provided with information regarding her condition. We have many questions as to why Tendercare was not prepared for the second wave and why Tendercare was not able to protect my grandmother.”

Another grieving family member said their family is haunted by what they believe was a lack of basic care leading to the death of Tien Ngan Luu.

There was an inspection at Tendercare on December 16, 2020 that cited a lack of personal protective equipment and inconsistent infection control practices. The report said COVID-19 “spread rapidly”.

The U.S. Justice Department announced on October 10, 2014 that Extendicare paid a $38-million settlement after an investigation into substandard nursing care at some of its American facilities.

Extendicare soon after sold off it’s American senior care communities for $870-million, saying at the time it wanted to grow and expand its business in Canada.

The company has raised the ire of federal politicians too. Back in June, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh noted shareholders continued to receive dividends consistent with earlier years.

“This company didn’t just earn profit, but had enough profit where they gave dividends of $10-million,” said Singh. “They’re spending that much less on staffing, and equipment, and supplies during COVID-19.”

In a statement provided to Blackburn News Wednesday afternoon, Extendicare said, “Our focus at this time is solely on providing quality care to our residents, and supporting our families and team members. Our hearts are with our community and those who have lost loved ones to this virus during this immensely challenging time. We’ll respond to the allegations through the appropriate legal channels in due course.”