Socialists demand Nationalization of Long Term Care companies
Dozens gathered for a loud protest and news conference held at Tendercare Living Centre, at McNicoll and Victoria Park Avenues in Scarborough, on Saturday, January 2. Over 50 residents have died of COVID-19 in less than three weeks at the seniors’ home in north-east Toronto. A further 101 are infected, and 53 staff are isolating at home.
Tendercare is operated by Extendicare (Canada) Inc., a for-profit, long-term care corporation. A Toronto Star analysis of the financial statements of Extendicare, Sienna Senior Living and Chartwell Retirement Residences shows that in the three-quarters of 2020 (ending Sept. 30), these for-profit companies collectively paid out nearly $171 million to shareholders while they received $138.5 million in pandemic funding from the provincial and federal governments.
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care released the results of a December 16 inspection of Tendercare revealing that Extendicare “failed” to ensure its staff implemented an infection-control program.
“Why should the care of elderly, ill and vulnerable people be entrusted to private for-profit vultures?”, said Corey David, the Socialist Action candidate in the Scarborough-Agincourt by-election set for January 15, 2021.
“Long Term Care should be an integral part of the public health care system. We demand more full-time staff, with much better pay, equipped with proper PPE, no more than two residents per room, and strict quarantine of patients with serious illnesses like COVID-19. It’s high time to nationalize the private LTC corporations, and bring their negligent managers and CEOs to justice.”
Passing motorists honked in solidarity as protesters chanted “More staff, Higher wages”, “Seniors Lives Matter”, “People Before Profits” and “Nationalize Long Term Care” at the event sponsored by Socialist Action. Many participants held hand-made signs. A stiff breeze animated SA red flags and union ensigns.
In separate statements, the Ontario Health Coalition demanded that the Canadian military intervene in the crisis-wracked facilities, and Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath called on the Minister of Long Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, to resign. In the meantime, Conservative Premier Doug Ford appointed to the Order of Ontario former Tory Premier Mike Harris. Harris slashed health, education and welfare spending in the 1990s, and currently is a top executive at Chartwell.
In addition to Corey David, members of the Service Employees’ International Union (which represents staff at Tendercare), the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, former NDP MPP Cheri Dinovo of the United Church of Canada, and relatives of patients at Tendercare and other LTC centres spoke to the rally on January 2. Crews from CTV, CBC, CityPulse24 and CITY-TV interviewed participants and broadcast segments of the event to an audience of millions.