Long-term care commission to grant nurses, PSWs anonymity to testify
TORONTO -- Nurses and personal support workers who want to testify in front of the COVID-19 commission into long-term care will be granted anonymity, CTV News Toronto has learned, after the Ford government changed the terms of reference for the commission.
Sources within the Ministry of Long-Term Care confirmed the change was made on Tuesday morning, after a request from Superior Court Justice Frank Marrocco who serves as the lead commissioner of the independent inquiry.
The idea of confidentiality was initially raised to the commission by a workers union who suggested nurses and PSWs were scared of losing their shifts, or experiencing a backlash from employers if they were to testify.
Marrocco told the union the commission wanted to change the terms of reference "to make it crystal clear that we can grant confidentiality and that only we can take it away."
"There's some ambiguity in the terms of reference and that's under discussion," Marrocco said of Oct. 9.
After negotiations with the government the province updated the terms of reference, clarifying those powers.
"The Commissioners may in their sole discretion determine what information provided by parties other than the Government of Ontario shall be maintained as confidential and may enter into agreements or undertakings to maintain such confidence and otherwise regulate the maintenance and use of that information," the new document reads.
John Callaghan, the commission's lawyer, told CTV News Toronto that commissioners wanted to tailor the terms of reference after the SARS commission which granted witnesses confidentiality in order to elicit the best testimony.
"It's important that we hear from all of the impacted sectors and that they ought not to have any fear coming forward to tell us what they know." Callaghan said
"That was the impetus to making sure that confidentially was iron clad."