Ontario NDP calls on province to reject Orchard Villa’s expansion proposal
Crosses are displayed outside the Camilla Care Community centre marking the deaths of multiple people that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
TORONTO -- The Ontario NDP is calling on the provincial government to reject an expansion proposal by the owner of the Orchard Villa Long-term Care Home, where dozens of people died due to the COVID-19 pandemic and alleged neglect and abuse.
The NDP issued a letter on Wednesday calling on the government to reject the proposal by Southbridge Care Homes Inc., saying the proposal is “disturbing” for the family members who lost loved ones at the home.
The for-profit company’s proposal is calling for the development of new long-term care beds and the issuance of a new license with a term of up to 30 years at their Orchard Villa facility.
“At this moment in Ontario’s history, it is not acceptable for the operator of this home to maintain their current license, much less receive an additional one for even more beds under their control,” the NDP said in the letter.
“After clearly failing to responsibly care for Ontario’s seniors, a license extension for this private corporation would be a reward instead of justice following what every Ontarian saw transpiring at their facility.”
The Canadian Armed Forces intervened at Orchard Villa and five other homes during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to offer support. Shortly after their visit, the military issued a damning report describing the alleged horrors witnessed at each of the five homes.
The report spoke about residents being left in their beds with soiled diapers at Orchard Villa. Staff were also placing residents’ belongings out of their reach, according to the report, and some slept on bare mattresses because of supply shortages.
The report also stated that there were nursing medication administration errors, and that staff failed to sit residents up to feed and give them medication, saying that one choking incident appeared to have contributed to a resident's death.
The NDP also cited that the government’s own long-term care commission highlighted the failures of the long-term care home, saying that staff had a poor understanding of how to use personal protective equipment and failed to keep the home clean due to staff shortages.
“These reports were tragic and shocking to some, but many family members of residents told media that they were not surprised by these revelations,” the NDP’s letter said.
“Before the pandemic Orchard Villa had a Level 3 compliance history, the second-worst possible category, which the ministry categorizes as ‘actual harm/risk.’”
CTV News Toronto reached out to Southbridge Care Homes Inc. for comment on Wednesday morning but has not yet received a response.
The NDP say that Orchard Villa and Southbridge Care are currently facing four separate lawsuits related to negligence, and that Durham police are currently reviewing reports from Orchard Villa and refuse to rule out a criminal investigation.