Ontario Health Coalition Demands Response from Ford: Lawyers Weigh in on Ford Government’s Proposed New 30-Year License & Expansion to For-Profit LTC Home Orchard Villa with Horrific Record

TORONTO and DURHAM, Ontario, Aug. 31, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Orchard Villa long-term care home in Pickering Ontario gained widespread notoriety for its record during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 206 of Orchard Villa’s 233 residents contracted COVID-19, along with more than 100 staff. At least 70 residents died. Reports from families of residents, the local hospital, the Canadian Forces and repeated inspections before and since the first wave of the pandemic provide hair-raising accounts of failures to provide sound infection control; dire understaffing; inadequate hydration and feeding; uncleanliness; flies and cockroaches; lack of vital supplies and egregious lack of care.

According to a CBC analysis, for-profit LTC chain Southbridge, which owns Orchard Villa, had the worst record among the for-profits during the pandemic with 9 deaths per 100 residents in homes with outbreaks. Orchard Villa had at least 30 deaths per 100 residents.

Not only did the Ford government fail to fine Southbridge for its record prior to and during the pandemic (and since), it instead passed legislation shielding Southbridge and other LTC corporations (predominantly for-profits) from liability claims arising from their negligence. Now, the Ford government is proposing to give Southbridge a new 30-year license and an 87-bed expansion as part of its plans to rebuild and build thousands of new long-term care beds, a significant portion of which they are proposing to hand to the same for-profit chain companies with the worst records.

Families and advocates are outraged and have vowed to fight these plans. The Ontario Health Coalition sent an Open Letter to the Minister regarding its concerns about Orchard Villa. Almost 200 people protested outside the home last month. Having received no response, the Coalition and the Families of Orchard Villa asked for a legal opinion regarding the lawfulness of the Ford government’s proposed new license and expansion which will be released tomorrow.

What: Press Conference by Zoom. Please register in advance: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrcuyvqj0qE9KMVWXKNdSUKRZ5OO3_yUu0
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

When: Wednesday, September 1 at noon.

Who: Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition; Catherine Parkes, Families of Orchard Villa; Steven Shrybman, lawyer Goldblatt Partners LLP.

For more information: Natalie Mehra, OHC executive director (416) 230-6402; Cathy Parkes, spokesperson, The Families of Orchard Villa; Steven Shrybman, lawyer, Goldblatt Partners (613) 858-6842.

The Ontario Health Coalition represents more than half a million Ontarians including patients, advocates, families & family councils, health professionals, doctors, unions, seniors’ organizations, student & community groups committed to protecting & improving public health care. The Coalition has worked for decades to advocate for improved care levels & public accountability, public & patients’ access to information, public non-profit health care, to stop cuts & closures of local health care services, to uphold the Canada Health Act, and to improve public health care under the principles of compassion & equity that underlie our system of Public Medicare for all.