TORONTO - Law firms specializing in class action lawsuits must be chortling over the skirmish that has emerged between the Premier and the A-G’s report regarding his government’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, last Spring and Summer.
Irrespective of one’s partisan political leanings, the A-G’s report essentially exposes owners/ operators of Long-Term Care Homes, as well as the Government itself, to charges of indifference to duties of care and wilful negligence causing unnecessary suffering and death. The Ford government has been trying to shield itself and the LTC homes from court action by enacting dubious legislative manoeuvres with retroactive measures - and lying about it.
There is no contest here, on either process or substance.
On process, the issues are straightforward. The A-G would have been obliged to work, and share, with the affected government departments – including the Premier’s office and Secretary of Cabinet - her data and interim findings; double-checked with them; invited their feedback and asked for “sign off.” before proceeding to the next step; finally, she would have presented a draft of her final report for comment and sign off before including the responses in the publication.
She did. So, the Government was aware of everything she was investigating and where the investigations were leading her. Her evidence points to a Government that gambled while the public is still paying the price.
On substance, the matters are even more striking. The government chose to manage the Covid-19 emergency by engaging a “consultative” model involving input from computer algorithms (math experts) rather than a hands-on leadership model vesting decision-making authority in the hands of medical scientists. Worse, their “command structure” was so porous and reporting protocols so inefficient that they may as well not have been in place.
Even more egregious was their apparent dismissiveness of warning bells sounded from Europe and the USA. For example, Italy, the first country to experience the devastating effects of the virus, immediately commissioned its Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, its Institute for Public Health and Medical expertise resident in its top hospitals to “isolate” pertinent facts: who was primarily affected; under what conditions and which measures could be implemented in the short term with expectations of success.
The Italians shared their findings with the USA’s CDC, its European equivalent, Johns Hopkins University the WHO and anyone else who wanted to build tracking model based on the epidemiology of the findings. Using all those sources, Corriere Canadese built admittedly rather pedestrian models to track the virus in specific jurisdictions, for illustrative purposes. Ontario ignored our reporting.
Ontario went to sources that only they know. It was not until the Canadian Armed Forces started to give a helping hand and submitted reports that Canadians began to be seized with the scope of the disaster in these “for profit” LTC homes. Regrettably, and embarrassingly, some institutions like our own Villa Charities and Baycrest were among the worst. Count the dead.
Abominably, the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care appear to have been derelict in their duties. The latter distributes some $3 billion to LTC homes - virtually no questions. Count the dead.
The Armed Forces did. Some of their personnel have filed for long term disability because of the ensuing post traumatic stress disorder. Contrition on the part of the government?
No; instead, they started to “sprinkle” Federal government funds for “cosmetic” measures to confuse the issues while they introduced legislation to lessen the liability issues the LTC home delinquents would face in court.
The Auditor General, in her report, stripped away any veneer of plausible deniability the Government and those owner/operator licensees could possibly mount. The report tracked what happened three to six months ago (the government being informed along the way) when 66% to 80% of deaths occurred in LTC homes. Now in our second wave, nothing seems to have changed.
No wonder those Class Action Law Firms are rubbing their hands.
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