NDP wants more from Wet­t­laufer inquiry

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - JEN­NIFER BIE­MAN THE LON­DON FREE PRESS

From staffing lev­els to fund­ing mod­els, On­tario’s New Democrats are de­mand­ing more answers from the pub­lic inquiry launched in the wake of for­mer nurse El­iz­a­beth Wet­t­laufer’s mur­der spree at two South­west­ern On­tario nurs­ing homes.

An NDP mo­tion urg­ing the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als to ex­pand the scope of the two-year in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Wet­t­laufer’s crimes and the long-term care sys­tem passed sec­ond read­ing Thurs­day.

Be­yond prob­ing the de­tails and cir­cum­stances of Wet­t­laufer’s in­sulin in­jec­tion mur­ders of eight el­derly nurs­ing home res­i­dents be­tween 2007 and 2014, the res­o­lu­tion, tabled by Lon­don-Fan­shawe MPP Teresa Arm­strong Tues­day, asks for the inquiry to in­ves­ti­gate eight sys­temic is­sues, in­clud­ing: • Qual­ity of care and fund­ing

mod­els. • Staffing lev­els and prac­tices. • Avail­abil­ity of long-term care beds across On­tario. • Im­pact of privatization and for

profit homes on care.

The New Democrats also are ask­ing for the pub­lic inquiry to as­sess gov­ern­ment ac­tion — or in­ac­tion — on pre­vi­ous rec­om­men­da­tions and to probe the reg­u­la­tion, en­force­ment and in­spec­tions sys­tem.

“There were eight deaths in longterm care . . .,” said Arm­strong. “I don’t know what else it can take for this gov­ern­ment to step up.”

It’s now up to the gov­ern­ment to de­ter­mine what ac­tion to take on the res­o­lu­tion, which passed 26 to 18, with sup­port of two Lib­eral MPPs.

“It’s up to the gov­ern­ment to take that idea and move it into the pub­lic inquiry,” she said. “They have to have the will to do what we ask.”

But with Health Min­is­ter Eric Hoskins de­fend­ing the scope of the inquiry at Queen’s Park Thurs­day

af­ter­noon, Arm­strong’s de­mands might fall on deaf ears.

“We in­ten­tion­ally cre­ated the terms of ref­er­ence for this pub­lic inquiry with a broad scope,” he said. “This inquiry will not only look at what oc­curred but also look for any un­der­ly­ing is­sues that need to be ad­dressed.”

In Au­gust, for­mer West­ern Uni­ver­sity law dean Jus­tice Eileen Gillese was ap­pointed to lead the in­de­pen­dent pub­lic inquiry into the cir­cum­stances and sys­temic is­sues which may have con­trib­uted to Wet­t­laufer’s crimes.

“We are al­low­ing the com­mis­sion the free­dom to fol­low what­ever di­rec­tion they and she feel is war­ranted,” said Hoskins, adding the in­ves­ti­ga­tion could in­clude fund­ing and staffing lev­els.

The fi­nal re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions from the inquiry are due by July 1, 2019.

This inquiry will not only look at what oc­curred but also look for any un­der­ly­ing is­sues.” Health Min­is­ter Eric Hoskins

Arm­strong

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