By Mike Baker
More than 600 Ontarians filled the virtual galleries of the Ontario Legislature for Question Period on May 18 to share their stories and demand improvements to long-term care, but Premier Doug Ford and Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care, were nowhere to be found.
“It was pretty pathetic,” said Haliburton resident Bonnie Roe, who helped to organize the Ontario Health Coalition [OHC] event. “There’s no other way to put it. Their absence was insulting, disrespectful and pathetic. To not have the premier and the minister there to listen to families’ concerns and workers’ concerns, when they knew this was taking place, it’s just unbelievable.”
Through individual stories sent in by long-term care families and staff, OHC asked the opposition parties to challenge Ford to commit to fast-tracking improvements in staffing in the homes.
The NDP’s Andrea Horwath took the lead, directing as many as 12 questions towards Paul Calandra, Conservative party house leader. The responses were “disappointing and vague” and offered no reassurances to those in attendance, Roe said.
While she was disgusted by the notable absences and poor response to questions, Roe was proud of her efforts in helping to organize the event, as well the 50 or so people from Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes who were actively involved.
“As an overall event, even though the premier and minister weren’t there, it was pretty powerful. I was totally moved. I was moved to tears,” Roe said. “Some of the testimonials… Every MPP who was there could not have not been moved by the stories that were shared. They would have to be made out of stone to not be moved. It was incredible.
“I felt truly honoured to be part of it, and so did so many. It’s our Ontario Legislature and it’s pretty important that we make family members and advocates feel listened to… It was unbelievable that there were no solutions to offer people,” Roe added.
As chair of the Haliburton-City of Kawartha Lakes LTC Coalition, Roe said she will continue advocating for residents and workers of Ontario’s long-term care homes.
“The work doesn’t stop. We’ll continue plugging away at our priorities, speaking up and holding [the provincial government] accountable,” Roe concluded.
For more information, visit www.ltcneedsyou.ca.