We’re not approaching them and asking them if they want to be part of this program. They’re approaching us, saying, ‘We want to be in your facility to care for our loved one, just like we always did [before the pandemic], but in a safe way.Lori McDonald, vice-president of care and research services. York Care Centre
CANADA LTC COVID Cases Jan 15, 2021
816 Affected Homes
23530 Total Cases
Great News! As of today, COVID-19 immunization clinics have been held at all 87 long-term care homes in Toronto. This vaccination milestone comes well in advance of the Province’s January 21 deadline.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 15, 2021
Nearly 100 of Ontario’s embattled care homes are run by third-party operators—a management arrangement often invisible to the families of residents. Now, analysis by The Local has found that COVID-19 death rates at facilities outsourced to Extendicare, the largest operator in Ontario, are 81 percent higher than the industry average.
hen I worked through SARS here in Toronto, I kept every piece of paper that I got. Either The Toronto Star when they took out the full-page ad, The Globe and Mail when they thanked us, the hospitals that I worked at would send out memos—I kept every single one of them, because I was very, very proud of that,” says Blake, a long-term care worker. “But I don’t feel proud of this.”
Blake is witnessing a disaster unfold in real time. (Blake has been given a pseudonym and details of his role have been concealed in order to protect his identity, for fear of reprisal). He works in a supervisory capacity at a subsidiary of Extendicare, a Toronto Stock Exchange-traded company and one of the largest owners of long-term care homes in Canada, with close to 60 facilities across the country. Less known is Extendicare’s contract services business, Extendicare Assist, which manages homes on behalf of other owners, including the two homes in Ontario that have seen the most deaths from COVID-19—Tendercare, with 73 deaths, and Orchard Villa, with 70 deaths.
Extendicare Assist is the largest outsourcing operation in Ontario. It has contracts with 44 long-term care homes across the province—almost half of all Ontario’s outsourced facilities. It is also the operator with the worst mortality rates during a pandemic that has devastated long-term care homes across the province.
The Local has now found, through analysis of government data and information available on Extendicare’s website, that the COVID-19 death rate across all Extendicare Assist locations is 81 percent higher than the industry average: 6.70 deaths per 100 beds, as opposed to the Ontario average of 3.69.
The voices of women performing “dirty, difficult and dangerous” jobs have long been ignored, says a University of Calgary researcher who’s studying the impact of COVID-19 on immigrant women working as health-care aides in Calgary’s long-term care facilities.
Sociologist Naomi Lightman said immigrant and racialized women, who are often Black or Filipina, disproportionately fill these positions and are forced to perform precarious work with poor pay and protections.
Her study, which began this month, is expected to shine a light on these inequalities and provide “quantifiable, reliable” data to inform policy discussions during and after the pandemic.
“What we are hearing, so far, is that these workers are really in a rock and a hard place and they’re struggling,” said Lightman.
“A lot of times they’re not feeling that management has listened to their concerns. They haven’t been adequately protected and they don’t, understandably, feel like they are being fairly remunerated for the work that they’re doing.”
CAREWATCH is Inspired by Carol Wodak founding member of CITIZEN WATCH
BACKGROUNDER: CITIZEN WATCH was created as a public service for the people of Alberta. It was the work of an ever-widening network of individuals from across the province, including families and friends of long term care and assisted or supportive living residents and those requiring long term care supports in their own homes. CITIZEN WATCH WEBSITE