21 November 2020 Posted By : The Canadian Press

Singh calls for end to feds' for-profit care

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and union officials are calling on the federal government to put a stop to its role in for-profit long-term care homes, where deadly COVID-19 outbreaks are worsening as the second wave of the pandemic takes hold.

Singh and two unions say the government must transform Revera from a for-profit corporation into a publicly managed entity.

The company runs more than 500 seniors' residences in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. It is owned by a federal Crown corporation that manages public-service pensions, which bought it out in 2007.

Revera confirms that 93 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 32 have died in an outbreak at just one Toronto facility over the past seven weeks, one of two dozen Revera homes where outbreaks have occurred.

"These are grandparents. These are our loved ones. And they are being lost in completely preventable scenarios," Singh said Thursday at an emotional rally on Parliament Hill alongside families of nursing-home residents who died this year.

"We are losing people we care for because profits are taking priority over people," he said, calling for-profit residences the site of "the worst conditions."

Chris Aylward, president of the 200,000-member Public Service Alliance of Canada, dubbed the treatment of residents in private seniors' homes a "national crisis" that is "absolutely shameful."

He is asking the government to initiate discussions between the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP), the Crown corporation that owns Revera, and provincial health authorities to transition the company into a publicly owned and managed network of nursing homes.

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in August found that for-profit homes in Ontario were likelier to see more extensive COVID-19 outbreaks and more deaths, though the odds of an outbreak in the first place were no greater than at non-profit residences.

The rate of death was 29 per cent higher at for-profit homes than at non-profit ones at 23.4 per thousand, according to the study.

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