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Union calls for inquiry, criminal probe, into coronavirus-related deaths at long-term care homes

Last Updated May 5, 2020 at 6:03 pm EDT

A long-term care home. (Photo by Jonas Güttler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Summary

The union representing over 60,000 healthcare workers is calling for public inquiries into long-term care deaths


The union has also asked Peel and Toronto police to open criminal negligence investigations


According to the latest statistics provided by the province, 218 outbreaks have been reported in long-term care homes


The union that represents over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario is calling for public inquiries — and criminal investigations — into coronavirus-related deaths at long-term care homes in the province.

Service Employees International Union Healthcare (SEIU) president Sharleen Stewart said on Tuesday the union has sent letters to both Toronto and Peel Regional Police, urging them to begin criminal negligence investigations after the deaths of three personal care workers that Stewart believes were avoidable.

“Were these people properly protected in their (long-term care) homes? We are calling on them to take a look at occupational health and safety,” she told 680 NEWS.

“I don’t think they did everything they could to prevent those three deaths.”

In a release Tuesday, the SEIU said it was also calling on Premier Doug Ford’s government to “immediately commission a public inquiry, pursuant to section 3 of the Public Inquiries Act, to investigate the deaths of residents and frontline workers at Ontario’s long-term care homes.”

The union also wants the Office of the Chief Coroner to look into the deaths.

“The purpose is to look back at what was done and more importantly what wasn’t done…” Stewart stressed. “Where were the mistakes made? We didn’t learn from SARS obviously because they didn’t take any of (those) recommendations forward, which is what we want investigated as well.”

“Enough is enough,” she added. “We’ve got to go in there and we have to see what went wrong from the very beginning.”

According to the latest statistics provided by the province, 218 outbreaks have been reported in long-term care homes and 697 deaths have been reported among residents/patients in long-term care homes.

A spokesperson for Peel police says they have received the letter from SEIU regarding criminal negligence, and the police service will take time to review that request.