Elder man in a wheelchair looking out the windowLong-term care (LTC) corporation, Revera, has announced significant changes to its ownership and operations which will treat LTC facilities as commodities to be bought and sold for profit rather than homes and workplaces. This corporate shell game hurts LTC residents and workers.

On March 1, Revera announced that it reached a tentative agreement to sell its 15 per cent ownership stake in a joint venture with Axium Infrastructure that owns 24 of Revera’s 56 LTC homes in Ontario and Manitoba. In addition, Revera plans to transfer operational management of its remaining 32 LTC homes in those provinces to Extendicare despite it’s failed record as a LTC home owner and manager. These two moves will further entrench complex corporate arrangements in the LTC sector and add an additional layer of profit-taking by Extendicare as a contracted manager in the 32 homes that Revera will continue to own.

The facts are clear: for-profit LTC homes saw almost double the average death rate of not-for-profit homes and almost five times higher than public LTC homes due to COVID-19 in Ontario. For-profit LTC homes tend to have lower staffing levels, higher workloads, and more resident complaints. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Extendicare alleging negligence and mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This corporate deal needs regulatory approval in Ontario and Manitoba. Our governments should take this opportunity to transfer these homes to public ownership, while protecting the jobs and working conditions of current employees. The federal government should lead this transition given that the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSPIB), which owns Revera, is a Crown corporation. We have seen how this can work in Saskatchewan where the operation of Extendicare’s five LTC homes was transferred to the public health authority after a disastrous outbreak at one facility resulted in 194 of 198 residents and 132 staff getting COVID-19 and 42 residents dying.

CUPE will work to protect the rights and working conditions of members who work at the affected LTC homes. Both companies have stated that Extendicare will be the successor employer under applicable labour relations legislation, Extendicare will abide by the existing collective agreements and that there will be no layoffs.