Federal NDP attacks Trudeau on long-term care crisis

THE federal NDP said that they learned on Monday that while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was telling Canadians that it wasn’t his responsibility to help fix the devastation seen in long-term care centres throughout the country, his government was meeting with lobbyists representing the companies that profit off these centres and seniors.

“How can the Prime Minister tell Canadians, and the loved ones of those who have died, that it’s not his responsibility to find a solution for the devasting losses of our seniors in long-term care centres, but can still find time in his team’s schedule to meet with lobbyists for the long-term care centres that are profiting while they suffer?” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “It’s pure hypocrisy. Instead of hiding behind excuses, and meeting with the wealthy companies making money off of the backs of our seniors, this government should meet with workers, with families who have lost loved ones, and with the provinces to find a solution to this crisis.”

While the Prime Minister likes to say that it is not his responsibility to find solutions to fix the disaster in long-term care, his government met with Chartwell lobbyists 12 times in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis – between March 25 and April 22, said Singh.

For weeks, the NDP has been calling on the Prime Minister and the Liberal government to show some leadership with the long-term care crisis. New Democrats are asking for an end to profit in the care of seniors, for the government to work with provinces to establish a Care Guarantee and to treat long-term care with the same principles of the Canada Health Act: universality, publicly delivered, accessibility, comprehensiveness and portability.

“The Prime Minister is once again showing his true colours. Saying nice things in public, but working with wealthy executives behind closed doors. Enough is enough,” said Singh. “Families who have lost a loved one are asking for action. It’s time the federal government and the Prime Minister shows some leadership and gets to work for the seniors in this country.”

According to the federal NDP:

  • In the worst part of the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care centres, the Liberal government met with lobbyists for Chartwell 12 times between March 25 and April 22.
  • They met with Andrew Steele nine times – he is well known to the Liberals given that he held senior campaign roles for the Liberal Party of Canada and the Ontario Liberal Party. Three of those nine meetings were with senior staff in the PMO. 
  • They met with Konner Fung-Kee-Fung three times – another lobbyist. 
  • During the crisis, Chartwell, as well as many other profitable long-term care operators, offered dividends to its shareholders. 
  • Chartwell offered dividends to its shareholders every month and the last payment was on May 15. According to page 3 of their report, they also gave out more money to unitholders (and again in April 2020 when they were fully aware of the COVID pandemic).
  • Sienna Livings – one of the companies running a long-term care centre named in the CAF reports – offered dividends to its shareholders every month and the last payment was on May 15. 
  • As SEIU Healthcare has pointed out, Extendicare revealed during an Annual General Meeting that it only spent $300,000 of its own money on COVID-19, while distributing over $10,000,000 to shareholders during the pandemic.