Joint Letter Re: Approval of Ottawa Schlegel Villages Long-Term Care Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ATTN:

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe

Premier Doug Ford

Minister Stan Cho

Minister Sylvia Jones

Councillor Catherine Kitts, Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health

Tammy DeGiovanni, Vice-Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health

 

Last month, Premier Ford and Mayor Sutcliffe announced a “new deal for Ottawa” that came with it $543 million in announced funding mostly for roads, highways and new police funding.

Unbeknownst to many however, Mayor Sutcliffe slipped in an agreement involving long-term care homes that only came to light later through media reports. Ottawa Citizen journalist Elizabeth Payne sounded the alarm that he had “cleared the path for private long-term care development” in Ottawa.

In March, city council approved a report that would see The Ottawa Hospital charged $12.9 million if they let Schlegel Villages build private long-term care homes on hospital land that was formerly owned by the city as the land was intended for public long-term care homes.

Schlegel Villages is notably one of the LTC corporations involved in a lawsuit worth $110 million for negligence during the pandemic. Under their own watch, 63 patients died in a Windsor home.

The agreement also said that the city could take back ownership of the land if it wasn’t used for that purpose. However, under the recent agreement, as the Elizabeth Payne article explains, the right to compensation has been transferred entirely to the province who could then choose to prioritize private for-profit healthcare without consequence, as they have so many times before.

As organizations that represent local residents, healthcare workers and those working in the long-term care industry, we are incredibly concerned by this decision as well as the lack of transparency around it.

How can a decision that was approved by council be unilaterally changed by the Mayor? Why was there no indication about this to the public? What else is included in this deal that residents should not know about? These are just some of the questions that residents and workers want answers to.

During a housing crisis and a healthcare crisis, selling off some of the last parcels of public land to the private long-term care industry is the last thing our city should be doing.

For-profit long-term care homes put residents at risk as they put the emphasis on profit instead of patient care. We saw this during the pandemic as Ontario’s private long-term care homes had a shocking 78% higher mortality rate than non-profit long-term care homes. Study after study shows that for-profit care is directly linked to higher death rates and lower quality care.

For-profit care puts workers at risk as well. 

These care homes are more likely to push for precarious, part-time or contract work. The precarious nature of this work means that nurses, care workers, and other staff are more likely to need multiple jobs to survive. 

Racialized women in low-wage occupations are disproportionately harmed by these policies. While all front line workers were exposed to COVID-19, personal support workers in Canada were at a 330% greater risk of contracting COVID-19 compared with physicians and 180% more likely than nurses to contract the virus.

This backroom deal with Schlegel Villages needs to be reconsidered. We need our city and our provincial government to provide quality health care to residents and quality jobs to workers. We also deserve answers from the Mayor’s office and Premier on why this major concession to a for-profit health care corporation was made in this agreement.

If we truly value the seniors and the frontline ‘heroes’ of our community we wouldn’t be selling out their health and wellbeing to the pressures of for-profit healthcare. 

Signed:

 

Ottawa Health Coalition

Justice for Workers

Decent Work and Health Network

Horizon Ottawa

OPSEU Region 4

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