June 26, 2017, 3 pm (Toronto) – CARP and the Advocacy Centre (ACE) for the elderly are pleased the Ontario government has committed to an independent public inquiry and issued the following statement:
“We eagerly await the terms of the inquiry to ensure that its scope is sufficient to address the actions, responsibilities and duties of the many institutions and individuals who failed to prevent or put a timely stop to Wettlaufer’s crimes, and to look at the systemic issues which have failed to protect residents of long-term care homes.
Individuals across the province have had their confidence in long-term care homes in Ontario severely shaken. This is a critical first step to restoring trust in our long-term healthcare system.”
Today, the Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins, issued the following statement after pressure from advocacy groups and sentencing of former nurse, Elizabeth Wettlaufer:
“On behalf of the Ontario government, we want to express our deepest condolences to the victims, their families and the communities in Woodstock and London and the surrounding areas.
What happened was a tragedy. That’s why we are establishing an independent public inquiry to look into the circumstances in this case.
Our next step is to formally establish the public inquiry through an Order in Council. The order will set out the scope of the inquiry and appoint the commissioner who will lead it. The government is actively engaged in finalizing these details and, once approved, will make them available to the public.
We want to assure the public that Ontario’s 78,000 long-term care residents are safe in their homes. Our oversight system in Long Term Care specifically focuses on the safety and security of our residents and we will continue to work to ensure all of our homes are meeting the highest standards.
It is our hope that through the inquiry process, we will get the answers we need to help ensure a tragedy such as this does not happen again.”
CARP and ACE Send Open Letter to Ontario Premier Demanding Public Inquiry
June 26, 2017, 10 am (Toronto) – Today, CARP and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly sent an open letter to Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, to demand a public inquiry into the Elizabeth Wettlaufer Murders and the systematic failures of long-term care.
The letter comes out as the former Ontario nurse, Wettlaufer, is sentenced for the murder of eight long-term care residents, the attempted murder of four, and two aggravated assaults.
In the open letter, CARP and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly demand that the government establish a public inquiry to examine the specifics of this case, and the systematic failures which allowed these crimes to happen and go unnoticed and unreported over the course of several years (2007 – 2014).
“CARP is very concerned about attitudes and behaviours towards our most vulnerable Canadians in long-term care,” says Wanda Morris, VP of Advocacy for CARP. “A public inquiry is long-overdue. Like abuse uncovered in residential schools, I suspect we will learn problems reach much farther than we currently imagine.”
The crimes took place in three long-term care homes and a private home. In 2014, after being accused of making repeated medication-related errors, Wettlaufer was finally fired from Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock, ON. This did not prevent her from obtaining employment and access to elderly patients and medication in another home and in the community.
It was not until October 2016 that Wettlaufer was charged for her crimes after police became aware of information she had provided while in a psychiatric hospital. During her trial, it was confirmed the cause of deaths was from insulin injections.
“While Wettlaufer has now pled guilty to her crimes, it’s done nothing to ease the minds of Ontarians concerned about loved ones who live, or may one day live, in long-term care,” says Jane Meadus, Lawyer and Institutional Advocate, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.
Open Letter to Kathleen Wynn
In the open letter to the Ontario Premier, CARP and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly write:
It is imperative that the Public Inquiry have a broad scope, which would inquire into, among other things:
- the actions of the long-term care home and its staff
- the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and its inspection process
- the College of Nurses and its ability to investigate and discipline its members
- the Office of the Chief Coroner and its death reporting and review system
- the Government’s funding and governance of long-term care
- the duty of third parties to report; and
- all other related matters.
In Ontario there are over 76,000 residents residing in approximately 629 long-term care homes. Of those residents, 90% have some level of cognitive impairment, and one in three have severe cognitive impairments. In view of this, many long-term care residents are unable to advocate on their own behalf, and their absolute reliance on long-term care homes for around-the-clock care makes them unique and among the most vulnerable citizens of this province. The complexity of residents’ illnesses, their total reliance on staff, ageist attitudes, and systemic failures has culminated in a long-term care system in which someone like Ms Wettlaufer can, and did, murder again and again without fear of getting caught.
We therefore demand that your Government immediately announce a Public Inquiry to protect all vulnerable residents in this province’s long-term care homes.
Read the entire Open Letter to Kathleen Wynne calling for a public inquiry into the Wettlaufer murders and the systematic failures of long-term care.
For media interviews, please contact:
VP of Advocacy, CARP
Jane Meadus, Lawyer and Institutional Advocate
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
Phone: (416) 598-2656
Toll Free Number: 1-855-598-2656