NDP wants more from Wettlaufer inquiry
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 LondonFanshawe 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 forprofit 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.