October 20, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB — The Manitoba NDP is calling for the creation of an independent Seniors Advocate, in the wake of numerous deaths due to COVID-19 at Personal Care Homes in our province and reports of Elder abuse and long-term care home neglect throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Seniors are the most vulnerable Manitobans in our society today. Forty seniors have died from COVID19 in our province so far, and many more have been affected by understaffing, visit restrictions, and home care cuts,” said NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara. “COVID has highlighted the need for real oversight of senior care, particularly in our healthcare system. We all want our Elders and seniors to be safe and well cared for, particularly during critical incidents and pandemics.”
In June 2020, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) published the Manitoba Health Coalition report Fast Facts: Why Manitoba Needs a Seniors Advocate, which said “the Advocate could monitor the provision of a range of services designed for older adults, analyze issues of importance to the welfare of older adults, and generally advocate in the interests of seniors.” Other provinces including BC and Ontario have developed a Seniors Advocate office.
‘‘The office of the Seniors Advocate is the first critical step to addressing long-standing systemic issues related to seniors care in the province,” said Brianne Goertzen, Provincial Director of the Manitoba Health Coalition. “It is imperative that Manitoba establish an independent, arms-length Seniors Advocate that can investigate systemic issues facing senior’s, make informed recommendations to government, and amplify the voices of seniors.”
The independent Seniors Advocate office would have the power to initiate investigations, publicly release and table reports of long-term care home inspections and investigations, as well as oversee government services to seniors in Manitoba.
“A Seniors Advocate could also release reports on inspections, such as those seen this week, that identify gaps and provide recommendations to improve government services. Our seniors and Elders deserve the very best care and protection, and we will continue to speak up for those who have worked hard to build Manitoba,” added NDP Leader Wab Kinew.