NDP Call on Province to Take Decisive Action at Personal Care Homes

November 8, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB—Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew, Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara and NDP MLA for The Maples Mintu Sandhu, stood with family members of long term care residents today to call on the Pallister government to take immediate and decisive action to save the lives of seniors and other living with dementia.

“The lives of our seniors and elders—the people who built our province and cared for us—are at stake here. After hearing about the chaos at Maples, it’s clear the time for baby steps is over,” said Kinew. “Government must activate a strong, acclerated response to save the lives of the seniors we love.”

Late Saturday evening, the PC government held an emergency press conference after reports that paramedics were called to a devastating scene at the Revera-owned Maples Personal Care Home. WRHA and Revera officials described a chaotic staffing situation at Maples, where nurse to patient ratios are being supplemented with security guards and general workers. Officials had visited the site at least twice in the last three weeks, yet no additional staff were added to the facility. Instead, the facility will lean on Canadian Red Cross emergency workers. The WRHA also admitted to poor system planning and a lack of understanding about the acuity of COVID positive residents.

Olga Eschuk’s husband is currently living in Maples. She explained her concerns for his safety.

“Families have not been told what is being done to protect residents and replace staff who are ill. I know the staff are working hard but the Health Minister and this government should be doing more to hire additional staff and keep residents safe - they are sitting back while people die."

The NDP made several demands to government in order to keep seniors safe:

• Immediately take over operations at Maples and Parkview PCHs to assess facility capacities and stabilize systems;

• Request federal approval for military intervention in Maples, Parkview and other PCHs to trigger an emergency response with trained personnel;

• Fast track recruitment of long term care nurses at all personal care homes, to achieve at least 4.1 hours of daily, direct care for every resident;

• In-person inspections at every PCH struggling with an outbreak and a commitment to publicize reports after each site visit, starting with Monday’s report on Maples; and

• Increased focus on regular, clear communication with family members of residents.

“What we heard last night was a clear indication that this government failed to learn from situations in Ontario and Quebec during phase one. Instead, they disbanded the Incident Command Structure,” said Asagwara. “Health officials say they are still learning how transmission among staff and the virus itself impacts residents. Nine months into this pandemic, and several outbreaks later, the government still doesn’t have a plan to protect seniors.”