In what can only be described as wilful omission – Revera’s carefully constructed new report – glaringly overlooks how their own for-profit model of ownership contributed to the sad and in some cases deadly outcomes for hundreds of long-term residents in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This report underlines the lack of distance between former senior health care civil servants and politicians and the for-profit nursing home industry in Ontario. It is also a major diversion from the intense criticism for-profit owners have taken for the fact that most of the 2,200 deaths in Ontario long term care happened in privately-owned and operated facilities, like Revera’s. It is the skimping on staffing and cleaning that is the primary difference in Covid-19 mortality rates between the for-profits and the municipal and charitable homes which have performed so much better,” says Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario.
The first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic shows that residents in for-profit homes were 60 per cent more likely to contract COVID-19, and 45 per cent more likely to die from the virus than residents in non-profit homes. A for-profit resident was also four times more likely to catch COVID-19 and four times more likely to die than a resident in a municipally run home.
“This is a report that first and foremost takes care of business. It’s hardly surprising that a for-profit corporation would commission a report that deflects attention from the shortcomings of for-profit health care. But all can now see that it’s time to bring the for-profit LTC homes into the public sector, not-for-profit sector,” says Rennick.
Despite the dismal record of the for-profit long-term care industry during the pandemic, last month the Ontario increased funding for LTC homes by billions of dollars funding that rewarded for-profits cash for new and renovated beds. Based on PC government announcements the for-profit long-term care providers chalked up at least 2,410 new beds in 44 homes, with a lot more public money to renovate facilities. All of these facilities paid for with public cash will be owned by large, for-profit corporations.
Over the last 20 years, Revera has become one of Canada’s largest private for-profit providers of both long-term care and home care. In that time “they have taken hundreds of millions of dollars in profits through understaffing nursing and personal care for long-term care residents and other services,” says Michael Hurley, President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE). “There is no question that this profit-taking has paid grisly dividends during the Covid-19 outbreaks. Ontario needs to squarely face what it has done to the seniors and others in long-term care during the pandemic and that process should begin with a conscious decision to move to not-for profit delivery.”
Today, CUPE Ontario and OCHU joined in supporting the Ontario Health Coalition’s push for the Ontario Integrity Commissioner to investigate political donations and high-level personnel links between the for-profit long-term care industry and key ministers in the Doug Ford PC government prior to the passage of Bill 218 that indemnifies the private, for-profits for negligence during the COVID-19 pandemic.