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.

A pandemic lesson: Make long-term care part of the public hospital system

“In Canada, we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors. In the weeks and months to come, we will all have to ask tough questions about how it came to this.” – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, April 23, 2020.

Questions are good. Answers would be better.

Will COVID-19 really change behaviour in the world of a “new normal?”

Some day the coronavirus crisis will play itself out – and when that day comes, the world will be not be same, or so we are told. There will be a “new normal.” Everything will change, presumably for the good.

As an optimist, I would love to believe these seers. As a skeptic, I wonder. Will the COVID-19 pandemic, horrible as it is, really change human nature or behaviour?

Now is the time to get ready for next time – for the next pandemic

It is one thing to be caught by surprise by a fast-moving virus, as most of the world was by COVID-19. It is quite another, and more serious, thing to be woefully unprepared to deal with such a crisis when it does occur.

Canada, like the United States, was taken was by surprise, although neither should have been. The Washington Post reported last week that the Trump administration received formal notification on Jan. 3 of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China. Within days, warnings from U.S. spy agencies were being included in the President’s Daily Brief.

Nothing else registers when the news is all pandemic all day

Who is, or was, Joe Biden?

The question is not entirely rhetorical. Just a month ago, Biden – Barack Obama’s vice-president – was the talk of every town. On March 3, he won a majority of Super Tuesday delegates and, building on momentum generated in South Carolina three days earlier, was poised to claim the Democratic nomination and challenge Donald Trump for the White House.

Justin Trudeau political legacy is riding on the outcome of the war against COVID-19

Canadian history is full of what historians like to call “defining moments” – events or decisions that put their stamp on the country and help to secure the legacy, for better or worse, of the government of the day.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minority Liberal government face one of those defining moments as they, along with their provincial partners, struggle to keep Canadians safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcome of the struggle, which no one can yet predict, will inevitably colour history’s verdict on this Trudeau government.

Listen to the scientists. And prepare for the absolute worst.

“We are living in a global public health crisis moving at a speed and scale never witnessed by living generations. The cracks in our medical and financial systems are being splayed open like a gashing wound. No matter how this plays out, life will forever look a little different for all of us.” – Dr. Cornelia Griggs, critical care specialist at a 4,000-bed New York City hospital, writing in the New York Times, March 19

There will be many lessons to be learned from COVID-19, and two big ones are already staring us in the face.

Canada gets it right on COV-19, unlike the United States

Canada is a favoured nation in many, many ways, not the least of them being the strength of our political institutions and the ability of our elected leaders to rise above partisanship and self-interest in times of crisis.

I can think of no better way to illustrate the point than by comparing the responses at the highest levels in Canada and the United States to the coronavirus pandemic. The response in Ottawa may not have been perfect, but the Trudeau administration clearly understands that the paramount responsibility of government is the protection of the public.

Opinion-Policy Nexus is a forum of opinion and commentary on topics related to public opinion and public policy. Views expressed in any blog entry are those of the author and do not reflect LISPOP's positions.

Authors

  • Ailsa Henderson
  • Andre Perrella
  • Anna Esselment
  • Anthony Piscitelli
  • Barry Kay
  • Ben Margulies
  • Christopher Alcantara
  • Christopher Cochrane
  • Geoffrey Stevens
  • Jason Roy
  • Jorg Broschek
  • Loren King
  • Manuel Riemer
  • Matthew Arp
  • Nikolaos Liodakis
  • Robert Williams
  • Simon Kiss
  • Timothy Gravelle
  • Zachary Spicer

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