|OSHAWA – Doug Ford needs to answer Durham Regional Council’s request for a full public inquiry into Sunnycrest Nursing Home in Whitby and ThorntonView Long Term Care Home in Oshawa, said NDP MPP for Oshawa Jennifer French in the following open letter:
February 9th, 2021
Hon. Doug Ford
Room 281, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
It has been a challenging time for families and communities across the province. We are all facing and dealing with COVID-19. The reality faced by loved ones in long term care, their caregivers and their families has been particularly distressing and often tragic. I will forever be changed by the work that I was proud to do alongside surviving family members who have been grieving while advocating for change in the wake of the horrible loss of life at Orchard Villa Long Term Care Home in Pickering. Unfortunately, as Ontarians have seen across their home communities, situations like Orchard Villa are unfolding every day. Families are being devastated every day. Vulnerable loved ones are suffering every day.
In the Durham Region there are many seniors’ facilities – long term care homes as well as retirement homes. Neighbours in Durham Region have been following the awful situations at both Sunnycrest Nursing Home in Whitby as well as ThorntonView Long Term Care Home in Oshawa. My constituency office has done its best to support distraught family members connected to both of these facilities. I am grateful to Lakeridge Health and their team for the unimaginable work they have done at Sunnycrest once the COVID-19 challenges there came to light. I understand Lakeridge is only consulting at ThorntonView – despite the concerning details my office hears regularly. Families want their loved ones to be protected and cared for. Families also deserve answers.
The Council of the Region of Durham has shared with your government its request that “the Provincial Government, through a full public inquiry, conduct an investigation into the failures of Sunnycrest Nursing Home and ThorntonView, including the circumstances that lead to the outbreak and deaths of residents, with opportunities for family to participate in the investigation, at an appropriate time.” I support this call – as do various municipalities across the Durham Region. Families deserve real answers as to what went wrong, to be meaningfully included in the process, and to be assured that the mistakes will not be repeated.
Premier, this is not the first time that I have asked for your government to listen to families and allow an independent public inquiry. The Official Opposition, seniors’ advocates, MPPs and families fought very sincerely for a public inquiry into long term care. It is beyond disappointing that one was not called in the wake of the first wave of COVID-19. It has been very upsetting to see that lessons were not learned, supports were not put into place, and our most vulnerable have not been protected. So here we find ourselves once again asking you for a full public inquiry with a comprehensive investigation. In a time of such struggle and uncertainty your government must change course, show leadership and prioritize accountability. Our vulnerable loved ones deserve nothing less.
On behalf of families in my riding of Oshawa and concerned folks across the Durham Region, I implore you to conduct an investigation into Sunnycrest Nursing Home and ThorntonView Long Term Care Home through a full and transparent public inquiry.
John Henry, Chair of Durham Region
Dan Carter, Mayor of Oshawa
Cynthia Davis, President and CEO of Lakeridge Health
Sara Singh, MPP - Official Opposition Critic for Seniors, Home Care and Long Term Care