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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sandor Demeter

Time to Face Up To How We Really Treat Our Seniors

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

Sculpture by John Hooper - St John NB

After I read a recent CBC I-Team story on Personal Care Home (PCH) inspections in Manitoba I felt compelled to share my opinion. (CBC)

It is unacceptable to not openly and transparently release PCH inspection reports. It is disturbing that both the former NDP, and current Progressive Conservative, governments have only spewed rhetoric on “…working on a plan…” for public disclosure of PCH inspection reports back to at least 2013.

It also concerning that PCHs appear to be able block the public release of their inspection reports, even after a freedom of information process was followed. The CBC article implied that the WRHA needs the “permission” of the individual PHCs to release inspection reports. Since the inspection report was generated by a public body, i.e. the province, it does not make sense that consent is required.

The province posts inspection reports on restaurant including details about unsanitary conditions and which establishments were shut down. I suspect that they do not seek the consent of these establishments before posting the inspection reports.

The Conservatives are in their second term and there is no excuse for not “getting it done”. It is ironic that the current Minister of Health, Cameron Friesen, criticized the NDP about this matter when he was the health critic in 2013. Both parties have aptly demonstrated the fine art of kicking the can down the road.

The reports released under a freedom of information request reveal a disturbing picture of poor, and at times potentially harmful, practices. Taken at face value I wonder if any of the inspections findings resulted in investigations under Manitoba’s Seniors’ Rights and Elder Abuse Act? I wonder if any deaths that may have been, at least in part, attributable to such conditions were reported to Manitoba’s Chief Medical Examiner?

The Canadian Armed Forces recent report on conditions in select Ontario Long Term Care facilities was chilling. COVID-19 has forced us to recognize the uncomfortable reality of how poorly we treat some our seniors and loved ones.

Manitoba needs to be more transparent and accountable on the quality of care, and quality of life, our loved ones receive.

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” (attributed to Mahatma Gandhi).

Dr. Sandor Demeter

Associate Professor

Community Health Sciences

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