Failing Our Most Vulnerable : Conditions In Long-Term Care Homes Must Improve To Meet Legal Standards

by Kris Bonn
Corporations running long-term elder care homes need to be help accountable

We have all been affected these past few months by the COVID-19 pandemic, none more so than our residents living in long-term care homes. The National Post reported this past week that more than half of those who have died in Canada from COVID-19 are from long-term care homes.

We are failing our most vulnerable citizens. 

 Conditions in long term care homes are more than a moral issue. 

In Ontario, according to a recent Globe and Mail article, one in six long-term care homes have declared outbreaks. To date, 217 residents have been reported dead and another 1,229 sickened with the disease as of April 16th. It shouldn’t be this way.

The dreadful environment that faces elderly long-term care residents in Ontario is not only morally wrong, it is also illegal.

Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (LTCHA) and Ontario Regulation 79/10 (Regulation) came into force on July 1, 2010. According to an official publication put out by Ontario, the LTCHA is designed to ensure that residents of long-term care homes receive safe, consistent and high-quality, resident-centred care. According to the guide, “...The goal is to create long-term care home environments where residents feel at home, are treated with respect, and have the supports and services they need for health and well being.

More strict enforcement of rules and guidelines needs to be put in place to protect the elderly.

Ontario has failed to deliver on its promise to protect the elderly residents of long-term care facilities.

 Is the problem that long-term home facilities are operated by for-profit organizations? Possibly. I am not typically a fan of big government, but if we are going to entrust the safety of some of our most vulnerable people to corporations, there needs to be proper oversight to ensure that the residents are being well cared for in a clean and safe environment. The LTCHA sets out rules that ought to be followed to ensure residents' safety and well-being. For example, section 3 of the LTCHA sets out the Resident’s Bill of Rights:

  • Every resident has the right to be treated with courtesy and respect in a way that fully recognizes the resident’s individuality and respects his or her dignity.
  • Every resident has the right to exercise the rights of a citizen.
  • Every resident has the right to be told who is responsible for and who is providing his or her direct care.
  • Every resident has the right to be afforded privacy in treatment and in caring for his or her personal needs.
  • Every resident has the right to keep and display personal possession, pictures and furnishing in his or her room, subject to safety requirements and the rights of other residents.
  • Every resident has the right to pursue social, cultural, religious, spiritual and other interests, to develop his or her potential and to be given reasonable assistance by the Home to pursue these interests and develop his or her potential.
  • Every resident has the right to be properly sheltered, fed, clothed, groomed and cared for in a manner consistent with his or her needs.
  • Every resident has the right to live in a safe and clean environment.

 Are the corporations who are operating the long-term homes providing a safe and clean environment? I say not by a long-shot.

Corporations responsible for the quality of care in long-term care facilities should be held accountable.

While there has not been much in the way of legal cases against the corporations who operate long-term homes, the time is now to take action. These corporations should be taken to court to answer for the neglect of our elderly citizens. If you have any concerns about a family member’s treatment in a long-term home facility, please contact us. We can help you understand your legal rights.


Kristian Bonn

Bonn Law