Issues Concerning the Fire Within the L’Isle-Verte

In response to the tragic fire that claimed lives within the LIsle-Verte, Quebec, seniors residence, CARP was asked by many media outlets to outline the history of long term care and senior residence fires, what CARP has recommended in the past, and what CARP recommends in light of this most recent and unfortunate event.

Please find below excerpts and links from the print media. Below these excerpts you can find links for the video and radio interviews Susan Eng did on this issue. Also, please find in the video clip section Halifax chair Bill VanGorders comments on this event and discussion of safety concerns.

Randall Palmer for Reuters, Firefighters melt ice to retrieve bodies after Quebec blaze:

CARP, an association representing the elderly in Canada, has long demanded that all such facilities install sprinklers, but said cost concerns have overridden safety needs.

“We’ve had these kinds of fires over the last three decades, inquest after inquest making these recommendations. Here we are today and we still don’t have … a national standard that’s enforced and fully funded,” said CARP spokeswoman Susan Eng.

An investigation by La Presse newspaper published on Friday found that 1,052 of 1,953 private seniors’ residences in Quebec have no sprinklers at all, and 204 of them, including the L’Isle-Verte home, had only partial sprinkler systems.

Renata DAliesio for The Globe and Mail, How an Ontario seniors-home fire changed the rules on sprinkler safety:

Susan Eng, vice-president of the seniors advocacy group CARP, wants other provinces to require operators of seniors homes to retrofit their facilities with sprinklers. But she also contends the Ontario government should move much more quickly than its current timeline. Cost, she said, should not take precedence over protecting lives.

Its a money issue. Thats why it stalled out since 1980, Ms. Eng said.

Sidhartha Banherjee, The Canadian Press, for the Globe and Mail: Quebec fire has seniors advocates calling for stricter safety rules:

The specifics building codes, fire codes, nursing-home regulations, retirement-home regulations are all provincial responsibilities, said Susan Eng, a Toronto lawyer and vice-president advocacy for CARP, a group that defends seniors interests.

Therefore, youre going to have to look to provincial authorities to make the rules and enforce them but theres nothing stopping them from adopting a common set of standards.

There are no uniform rules when it comes to safety. Last year, Ontario became the first province to have mandatory sprinklers in all retirement homes and long-term care facilities.

Its part of a series of new rules that came into effect on Jan. 1. Retrofitting old buildings, however, is still several years away.

We dont have to have a patchwork, theres no good reason the standards shouldnt be identical across the country, Eng said

Eng said sprinklers are only part of the equation and that staffing levels are just as important.

The majority of the people at Résidence du Havre were not mobile. Two people were on staff overnight, even though only one is required by law.

It was three floors, one elevator, two staff, do the math, Eng said. Its not going to work.

Video interviews:

Susan Eng on CBC The National, No sprinklers in L’Isle-Verte seniors home

Bill VanGorder on CTV interview video and web article, Deadly nursing home fire raises safety concerns

Radio interviews:

Wojtek Gwiazda interviewing Susan Eng for Radio Canada International (Montreal, CBC Radio): Seniors residence fire Are seniors put at risk because of sprinkler costs?

There will be more media coverage to share on this issue within the following days to come.