Geoffrey Stevens's blog

Let’s go down the rabbit hole with the Conservative leadership race

“’Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Today’s Conservative Party of Canada is a curious movement. Even curiouser are its leadership race and its upcoming pair of television debates – French on Wednesday, English on Thursday.

The debates, to be broadcast from Toronto, may be the only opportunities for national audiences to take the measure of the four candidates who are vying to take on Justin Trudeau in the next federal election. Voting by ranked preferential ballot is to take place in August.

Will the hard lessons of the pandemic be lost in the preoccupation with recovery?

Political and public attention is shifting from stopping COVID-19 to the delicate and uncertain challenge of recovering from it – to returning daily life to something close to what it was pre-pandemic and to getting the economy firing on all cylinders again.

In British Columbia, for-profit nursing homes spend $10,000 less per patient for care than non-profit homes.

Last week, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government gave itself the power to take over temporary management of long-term care homes that are unable to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

One might ask why Ontario waited so long. British Columbia, which has been more successful in holding off the coronavirus, made the same move six weeks earlier.

Urgent: Forget the expense, screw the profits. Fix long-term care!

Forest Heights Long-Term Care Centre in Kitchener, a for-profit nursing home, is at the epicentre of the COVID-19 crisis in Ontario’s Waterloo Region. As of last Thursday night, 45 Forest Hill patients had died.

That was 45 of 98 deaths in the region, which encompasses the cities of Cambridge and Waterloo, as well as Kitchener. To put it another way, one nursing home was responsible for 45 out of 79 deaths in all the long-term care (LTC) homes in the three cities.

Why for-profit nursing homes are especially dangerous in a pandemic

Public officials in Canada, as in other countries, are turning their attention from self-isolation, social distancing and keeping businesses shuttered to strategies for a cautious reopening of society.

They see a flattening in the curve of new cases of COVID-19. They feel growing pressure from cooped-up families, from 7 million unemployed workers and from business owners to let the country return to normal.