Transcript: Fighting COVID-19 in Long-Term Care | Apr 16, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a checkered shirt and a spotted black tie.

A caption on screen reads "In search of COVID-19 immunity. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says PREMIER DOUG FORD CALLED FOR AN "IRON RING OF PROTECTION" AROUND ONTARIO'S LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. SO FAR, IT HASN'T STOPPED THE DEVASTATION. STAFF, RESIDENTS, SOME OF THE MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ARE SICK, AND TOO MANY HAVE DIED. WILL THE SO-CALLED SWAT TEAMS AND OTHER MEASURES ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY HELP? LET'S ASK OUR GUESTS, ALL OF WHOM ARE IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: DR. SAMIR SINHA, DIRECTOR OF GERIATRICS AT SINAI HEALTH SYSTEM AND THE UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK...

Samir is in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short black hair. He's wearing a white lab coat and a gray shirt.

Steve continues DONNA DUNCAN, SHE'S THE CEO OF THE ONTARIO LONG TERM CARE ASSOCIATION...

Donna is in her fifties, with chin-length wavy blond hair and bangs. She's wearing glasses.

Steve continues AND SHARLEEN STEWART IS HERE, PRESIDENT OF THE SEIU HEALTHCARE UNION... THAT'S THE SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL, WHICH REPRESENTS MORE THAN 60,000 FRONTLINE WORKERS...

Sharleen is in her fifties, with shoulder-length straight blond hair. She's wearing a black blazer and a black shirt.

Steve continues WE ARE PLEASED TO HAVE ALL OF YOU HERE FOR A VERY TIMELY CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT MANY ARE REFERRING TO AS GROUND ZERO IN OUR WAR AGAINST COVID-19. DR. SINHA, LET ME START WITH YOU. APPARENTLY HALF OF THE DEATHS IN CANADA FROM COVID-19 HAVE BEEN LINKED TO LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The caption changes to "Samir Sinha. Sinai Health System."

Samir says CURRENTLY WE HAVE A THOUSAND HOMES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, PRINCIPALLY IN B.C., ONTARIO, AND QUEBEC THAT ARE NOW IN OUTBREAK, AND WE'RE REALIZING THAT IT'S A COMBINATION OF TWO THINGS: ONE IS THAT (a) THIS IS WHERE LONG-TERM AND RETIREMENT HOMES ARE WHERE WE HOUSE SOME OF OUR MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST AT RISK OF GETTING THIS, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY LIVE IN CLOSE QUARTERS AND OFTEN DO THINGS COMMUNALLY AND RECEIVE CARE FROM MANY OF THE SAME PEOPLE. BUT THE OTHER CHALLENGES IS THAT SYSTEMIC VULNERABILITIES, THE WAY WE'VE STAFFED THESE HOMES ALLOWING PEOPLE TO WORK BETWEEN MULTIPLE HOMES, THE FACT THAT WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT OR THE TRAINING IN PLACE. ALL THESE THINGS KIND OF ALLOWS COVID-19 TO GET INTO HOMES AND UNFORTUNATELY IT'S STILL SPREADING AT THE MOMENT. THIS IS WHY WE'VE BEEN CALLING FOR OUR GOVERNMENTS TO TAKE ACTION TO REALLY FOCUS MORE ATTENTION ON THIS FRONT LINE NOW.

Steve says DONNA, FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW, WHAT'S CONTRIBUTED TO THIS?

The caption changes to "Donna Duncan. Ontario Long Term Care Association."

Donna says I AGREE WITH SOME OF SAMIR'S COMMENTS. WE HAD A PERFECT STORM BEFORE WE WENT INTO THIS. WE HAD A CRITICAL STAFFING SHORTAGE. WE HAD HOLD BUILDINGS THAT HADN'T BEEN REPLACED. THERE WAS A REASON WHY THE GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO REDEVELOPING ALL OF OUR HOMES. HOMES WITH FOUR-BED WARDS ARE NOT OPTIMAL FOR ISOLATION AND INFECTION CONTROL. AND THEN WE HAD PRECARIOUS FUNDING, UNDER RESOURCED, UNDERSTAFFED, AND POORLY BUILT HOMES.

Steve says CHARLENE, WHAT WOULD YOU ADD?

The caption changes to "Sharleen Stewart. SEIU Healthcare."

Sharleen says BOTH OF THEM ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. I MEAN, WE WERE IN A CRISIS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HAPPENED AND THE PANDEMIC HAS SHONE A MAGNIFYING GLASS ON THE PROBLEM. BUT IT IS A STAFFING ISSUE THAT WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH STAFF THERE AND IT'S GETTING WORSE. WE ARE NOW EXPERIENCING AND WERE EXPERIENCING CRITICAL RETENTION AND RECRUITMENT PROBLEMS, AND THIS HAS JUST MADE IT SEVERE.

Steve says I DON'T WANT TO COME OFF LIKE A MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK HERE, BUT I SUSPECT PEOPLE DO WANT TO KNOW SORT OF WHERE THE BUCK STOPS. SO DR. SINHA, WHY DON'T WE START WITH YOU? IN TERMS OF ACCOUNTABILITY, WHO IS THE LAST LINE OF DEFENCE HERE THAT OUGHT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THINGS NOT GETTING TO THIS POINT?

Samir says I THINK WHEN PEOPLE THINK ABOUT LONG-TERM CARE, BE IT HOME CARE ALL THE WAY TO CARE IN NURSING HOMES ACROSS OUR COUNTRY, PEOPLE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THESE THINGS WERE NEVER PART OF THE CANADA HEALTH ACT, SO IT'S NOT THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF HEALTH, IT'S NOT THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF SENIORS OR THE PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA, IT'S ACTUAL PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL RESPONSIBILITY. AND THAT'S WHY WE SEE IN EVERY PROVINCE AND TERRITORY RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO THIS SECTOR AND SUPPORT THE SECTOR DIFFERENTLY. BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL COMMONALITY THAT YOU HEARD FROM MY COLLEAGUES WAS THAT ALL LONG-TERM CARE AND RETIREMENT HOMES WERE HAVING CHALLENGES, YOU KNOW, WITH THEIR STAFFING ISSUES BEFORE THIS ACTUALLY HIT. AND PARTLY THAT WAS BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE COULDN'T ACTUALLY GET FULL-TIME WORK WITH PAY... YOU KNOW, REASONABLE PAY AND BENEFITS IN THESE ENVIRONMENTS. THEY'VE BEEN EMPLOYED ON A PART-TIME BASIS. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? YOU'D WORK MULTIPLE HOMES. AND WHEN YOU DON'T GET SICK DAYS IN MANY CASES, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? YOU'D COME TO WORK AND TRY TO WORK THROUGH THAT ILLNESS. THESE ARE SOME OF THESE SYSTEMIC VULNERABILITIES WE'VE KNOWN EVER SINCE WE HAD THE SARS COMMISSION THAT POINTED OUT THESE WERE PROBLEMS THERE. THEY NEVER REALLY GOT DEALT WITH. NOW WE'RE SEEING THESE ARE SOME OF THE SYSTEMIC ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE DEALT WITH AND IT HAS TO BE DEALT WITH AT EACH PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL MINISTRY.

Steve says DONNA DUNCAN, FOR THOSE WHO ARE GOING TO LOOK AT THESE PROBLEMS AND SAY HEY, YOU GUYS OWN MOST OF THESE HOMES. THIS IS YOUR PROBLEM, YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN SOLVING THIS EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Donna says YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK IT'S THE TIME RIGHT NOW TO WORRY ABOUT RELATIONS. I THINK WE NEED TO SHORE UP OUR HOMES RIGHT NOW. CERTAINLY WHAT WE'VE BEEN ASKING FOR CONSISTENTLY IS, GIVE US THE RESOURCES TO HIRE MORE STAFF. LET US COMPENSATE OUR STAFF APPROPRIATELY. LET US REBUILD OUR BUILDINGS. AND WE ARE A CREATURE OF GOVERNMENT, HIGHLY PRESCRIBED LEGISLATIVE AND COMPLIANCE REGIME THAT GUIDES US. WE TAKE OUR DIRECTION FROM THE PROVINCE, AS SAMIR NOTED, AS WELL AS GIVE US THE TOOLS TO RECRUIT. LET'S CHANGE THE CULTURE IN THESE HOMES. LET'S DESTIGMATIZE LONG-TERM CARE. THERE'S A REASON WHY PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO WORK IN LONG-TERM CARE. IT'S VERY, VERY HEAVY WORK. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT THERE WAS A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING ABOUT WHO OUR RESIDENTS ARE AND WHAT THEIR CARE NEEDS ARE. HOW DO WE STAFF THEM PROPERLY? HOW DO WE FUND THE SYSTEM PROPERLY TO GET THOSE STAFF? SO THIS IS A BIG WAKE-UP CALL RIGHT NOW, AND, YOU KNOW, TILL NOW, I DON'T THINK PEOPLE REALLY REALIZED AND EVEN AS WE'RE LOOKING AT THE RESPONSE TODAY, WE WERE CALLING FOR HELP LONG BEFORE THIS.

Steve says HMM. SHARLEEN STEWART, DO YOU THINK THE PEOPLE YOU REPRESENT, DO YOU THINK THEY FEEL STIGMATIZED FOR WORKING IN THIS SECTOR?

Sharleen says YOU KNOW, THEY ARE VERY, VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE. TO TAKE CARE OF SENIORS, THEY BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM. THEY'RE LIKE THEIR FAMILY. SO THAT'S THE TYPE OF VIEW THAT I HAVE ON THESE WORKERS. YOU KNOW, THEY'RE LIKE FAMILY. AND RIGHT NOW, THEY WILL PUT THEIR RESIDENTS BEFORE THEMSELVES. 90, 95 PERCENT OF THESE WORKERS ARE WOMEN. SO, AGAIN, THEY WILL PUT THOSE LOVED ONES AHEAD OF ANYTHING ELSE THAT THEY DO. YOU KNOW, THE PROBLEM IS, THE STIGMATISM IS ONE THING. THESE OWNERS ARE FOR-PROFIT HOMES AND THEY NEED TO BE PUTTING SOME OF THE PROFIT IN THE FRONT LINE TOO. THAT'S BEEN SOME OF OUR ASK. THEY COME INTO THE PROVINCE AND THEY, YOU KNOW, START UP HOMES WHICH, AGAIN, WITH THE SENIOR POPULATION GROWING, THERE'S, YOU KNOW, A REAL NEED FOR THESE HOMES, AND THEY HAVE TO ALSO DO THEIR SHARE. THE CUTS THAT HAVE HAPPENED IN THIS SECTOR HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE CRISIS THAT WE'RE IN NOW AS WELL.

Steve says HMM, OKAY. DONNA DUNCAN, I SHOULD LET YOU COMMENT ON THAT, IF YOU WANT TO.

Donna says YOU KNOW, AS WE'RE MONITORING THE SITUATION, WE ARE LOOKING AT WHAT THE GOVERNANCE LOOKS LIKE IN THE HOMES AND HOW HOMES ARE RESPONDING ACROSS THE PROVINCE. YOU KNOW, UNFORTUNATELY, THE DATA ARE NEUTRAL TO GOVERNANCE RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW, HOMES ARE... THIS IS ABOUT THE POPULATION WE'RE SERVING, IT'S ABOUT OUR CAPITAL PLANS, PHYSICAL PLANS IN THE HOMES. CERTAINLY WE NEED TO LOOK AT WHAT OUR FUNDING MODELS, OUR CARE MODELS ARE GOING FORWARD, BUT WE HAVE TO LOOK AT GETTING PEOPLE INTO LONG-TERM CARE TODAY. WE NEED TO MARSHALL AN ARMY OVER THE NEXT FIVE DAYS AND FOCUS ON CARE AND SUPPORT. I DO ECHO CHARLENE'S COMMENTS. OUR FRONT LINE STAFF ARE HEROES, ABSOLUTE HEROES. THE COURAGE THEY HAVE DISPLACED STEPPING UP PARTICULARLY WITH LARGE OUTBREAKS IS REMARKABLE.

Steve says WE'RE GOING TO TALK MORE ABOUT THAT IN A SECOND, BUT I FIRST WANT TO GET SAMIR SINHA TO GIVE US A SENSE, AS YOU LOOK ACROSS THE COUNTRY, HOW WELL OR POORLY ONTARIO'S LONG-TERM CARE HOME SITUATION IS, COMPARED TO OTHER JURISDICTIONS, INCLUDING MOST IMPORTANTLY RIGHT NEXT DOOR IN QUEBEC. HOW ARE WE DOING COMPARED TO EVERYBODY ELSE?

Samir says WELL, I'D SAY WE'RE KIND OF IN THE MIDDLE POSITION RIGHT NOW, SO B.C., WHERE WE HAD OUR FIRST OUTBREAKS IN THE COUNTRY, THEY NOW HAVE STABILIZED THE SITUATION BY TAKING SOME DECISIVE ACTIONS WITH THEIR STAFFING AND OTHER THINGS, A LITTLE BIT AHEAD OF WHAT ONTARIO AND OTHER PLACES HAVE DONE, AND SO THEY ACTUALLY HAVE... THEY'RE SITTING AT ABOUT LESS THAN 10 percent OF THEIR HOMES RIGHT NOW ARE CURRENTLY IN OUTBREAK. WHERE YOU GO TO THE QUEBEC AT THE OTHER END. OVER 50 percent OF THEIR HOMES NOW ARE ACTUALLY IN OUTBREAK, TO THE POINT WHERE WE WERE SEEING IN SOME DIRE SITUATIONS, LIKE AT HERRON IN MONTREAL, WE WERE SEEING HOW THE MINISTER SAID WE NEED TO ACTUALLY REDEPLOY HOSPITAL RESOURCES TO TRY TO STABILIZE THINGS THERE, AND ACTUALLY JUST TRY AND TEST EVERYBODY IN LONG-TERM CARE, INCLUDING STAFF. ONTARIO RIGHT NOW, FROM THE NUMBERS THAT MY TEAM HAS ON THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING, THERE'S A GROSS UNDERREPORTING ON NUMBERS. OFFICIALLY THEY'RE REPORTING LONG-TERM CARE HOMES, BUT THEY'RE NOT MENTIONING THAT WE ACTUALLY HAVE MORE RETIREMENT HOMES THAN LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. OVER 10 percent, ABOUT 15 percent OF THESE HOMES ARE NOW IN OUTBREAK ACROSS ONTARIO. DESPITE SOME OF THE THINGS WE'VE BEEN ANNOUNCING IN THE PAST WEEKS THAT I'VE BEEN HELPING TO ADVISE THE GOVERNMENT TO DO, WE'RE STILL SEEING EVERY DAY NEW HOMES IN OUTBREAK, AND IT REALLY MAKES ME WONDER WHETHER OR NOT, EVEN IF WE HAVE THE GOOD POLICIES IN PLACE, HOW ARE WE IMPLEMENTING THESE THINGS? HOW ARE WE ENSURING THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT STAFFING? HOW ARE WE MAKING SURE THAT EVEN PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO PUT ON PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT PROPERLY, BECAUSE THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT YOU COULD HAVE ALL THE RIGHT IDEAS OUT THERE, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY HOW THEY'RE GOING TO BE OPERATIONALIZED WHICH WILL TELL US HOW SUCCESSFUL WE'RE GOING TO BE.

Steve says YOU'VE ASKED SOME GOOD QUESTIONS THERE. DO YOU HAVE ANSWERS TO THOSE QUESTIONS?

Samir says WELL, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE DO HAVE IS WE HAVE A LOT OF DATA THAT'S BEEN COMING OUT FROM THE UNITED STATES. SO, YOU KNOW, THERE WAS A REPORT JUST THIS PAST WEEKEND THAT IN NEW YORK STATE ALONE, 2,000 PEOPLE IN THEIR LONG-TERM CARE AND RETIREMENT HOMES DIED, AND THEY'RE UNCOVERING NEW GRISLY SITUATIONS EVERY DAY. THE CDC HAS DONE A REALLY GOOD JOB, THAT'S THE CENTRE FOR DISEASE CONTROL IN ATLANTA, ACTUALLY STUDYING WHAT HAPPENED. THEY'VE HAD THE TIME TO DEPLOY TEAMS TO REALLY UNDERSTAND. AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST THINGS THAT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT HERE IN ONTARIO IS, IT'S ONE THING TO PUT IN NEW STAFF, IT'S ANOTHER THING TO HAVE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PPE MADE AVAILABLE EVERY DAY, BUT WHAT THEY WERE SEEING IS WHERE THINGS REALLY FELL APART IS WHEN STAFF WERE UNDER STRESS AND STRESS WEREN'T SURE HOW TO PUT ON THEIR PPE WELL, SO THEY ENDED UP CONTAMINATING THEMSELVES. I CAN TELL YOU, I SPENT AN HOUR THIS MORNING AT SINAI LEARNING HOW TO PROPERLY PUT ON AND TAKE OFF PPE, I HAD TO DO IT THREE TIMES WITH MY NURSING LEADERSHIP THERE WATCHING OVER ME BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT EASY THINGS TO DO. AND YOU CAN IMAGINE, INCREDIBLY HARD-WORKING MOSTLY WOMEN, YOU KNOW, AT THESE FRONT LINES WHO ARE NOT WELL PAID WHO ARE STRESSED THEMSELVES AND WORRIED THEY'RE GOING TO GET INFECTED, YOU HAVE ALL THAT GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AND YOU'RE TRYING TO DO THE BEST YOU CAN. AND THIS IS WHERE I'M WORRIED THAT IF WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT RESPONSE AT THE FRONT LINE, WE'RE GOING TO SEE MORE OUTBREAKS, WE'RE GOING TO SEE MORE DEATHS, AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO GIVE THE STAFF THE SUPPORT THEY NEED.

Steve says WELL, THE CABINET MINISTER OF THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT THAT'S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS FILE, NAMELY LONG-TERM CARE, IS A MEDICAL DOCTOR HERSELF. HER NAME IS MERRILEE FULLERTON, AND SHE WAS MADE AVAILABLE TO REPORTERS YESTERDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THIS ISSUE AND HERE IS A LITTLE SNIPPET OF WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY. CHAD, LET'S ROLL THAT CLIP, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "April 15, 2020. Doctor Merrileee Fullerton."
In the clip, Minister Fullerton gives a press conference.

She says WE WILL BE LAUNCHING MORE AGGRESSIVE TESTING, SCREENING, AND SURVEILLANCE BY SCREENING ALL SYMPTOMATIC STAFF AND RESIDENTS, AS WELL AS ASYMPTOMATIC CONTACTS OF CONFIRMED CASES. WE WILL BE ENHANCING TESTING IN ALL HOMES WITH A TARGETED PLAN FOR HOMES IN OUTBREAK AND TESTING OF ASYMPTOMATIC RESIDENTS AND STAFF IN SELECT HOMES ACROSS THE PROVINCE. WE WILL BE GROWING OUR HEROIC LONG-TERM CARE WORK FORCE BY DEPLOYING HOSPITAL AND HOME CARE RESOURCES INTO HOMES WHEN NEEDED. EVERY OPTION IS ON THE TABLE, AND ADDITIONAL MEASURES WILL BE TAKEN AS WE ADDRESS THIS FAST CHANGING OUTBREAK.

The clip ends.

Steve says MERRILEE FULLERTON, THE MINISTER FOR LONG-TERM CARE. OKAY. SHARLEEN, LET'S START. WHAT'S YOUR REACTION BY THE ANNOUNCEMENT MADE YESTERDAY BY THE MINISTER?

Sharleen says WHEN I WATCH THOSE PRESSES EVERY DAY, I LITERALLY RUN AROUND THIS LIVING ROOM. IT IS VERY DISAPPOINTING TO HEAR SOME OF THE STUFF THAT'S BEING SAID ON THERE BECAUSE I PERSONALLY HAVE MET WITH THE MINISTER THREE WEEKS AGO. WE REMINDED THEM OF THE SARS GUIDELINES. I SAID SIX WEEKS AGO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT WORKERS WORKING IN MULTIPLE WORK SITES? NOTHING WAS SAID. NOTHING WAS DONE. WHEN THE REDEPLOYMENT ORDERS CAME OUT, I SAID TO MINISTER FULLERTON, YOU CAN REDEPLOY THESE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, ANYWHERE RIGHT NOW, BUT IF YOU DON'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE STAFF SHORTAGE AND PARTICULARLY START IMPLEMENTING PPE, THERE'S NOT GOING TO BE STAFF TO REDEPLOY. AND THAT'S WHERE WE ARE TODAY. AND I'VE GOT EXAMPLES OF HOMES THAT LISTENED TO US AND SAID, TREAT THIS AS ASYMPTOMATIC FROM BEGINNING. TREAT IT LIKE EVERYBODY IS INFECTED. AND THEY SAID THEY FOUND THIS OUT A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO? THAT'S ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. HOW DO I FEEL? YOU CAN TELL. I GET SO UPSET. WHAT THEY'RE SAYING THEY RECENTLY FOUND OUT, NO. THEY FOUND OUT WEEKS AGO ON THIS STUFF.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, WHY HAVEN'T THEY DONE ANYTHING? WHAT HAVE THEY TOLD YOU?

Sharleen says WELL, THE PREMIER HIMSELF SAID IT'S BECAUSE WE HAD A SHORTAGE OF STAFF. WELL, THAT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR A COUPLE OF DECADES. LIKE, WHEN DID YOU FIGURE THAT OUT? THAT'S THE ANSWER. WE HAD A SHORTAGE OF STAFF. WE KNEW THAT WAS THE ANSWER. WE ALSO KNEW SEVEN WEEKS AGO THAT WE DID NOT HAVE ADEQUATE PPE IN THIS PROVINCE, AND WE ASKED THE GOVERNMENT, WORK WITH US, WORK WITH THE UNIONS. THESE FRONT LINE WORKERS ARE USED TO BEING IN A CRISIS AND DEALING WITH A CRISIS AND FIGURING IT OUT. THEY DID NOT COMMUNICATE FROM THE BEGINNING AND THEY DID NOT KEEP THE FRONT LINE AT THE COMMAND TABLE THROUGH THEIR UNIONS. SO I KNOW THESE PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO LOOK BACKWARDS, BUT WE HAVE TO LOOK BACKWARDS. THERE WAS BIG MISTAKES MADE. MISMANAGEMENT. AND STILL IT'S CONTINUING. THE BODY COUNTS THAT WE'RE HEARING IS NOT ACCURATE. THOSE HOMES ARE KEEPING STUFF AWAY FROM WORKERS, FROM FAMILIES, FROM PUBLIC HEALTH. NO. YOU KNOW, TESTING PEOPLE. YOU KNOW YOU CAN BE NEGATIVE TODAY AND POSITIVE TOMORROW. YOU HAVE TO GET THE PROPER PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT IN THERE, AND THAT'S... LIKE THE DOCTOR SAID, WE NEED N-95s. AND AGAIN I CALL ON THOSE CORPORATIONS THAT ARE MAKING MONEY OFF OF THIS BUSINESS TO FIND THOSE AND PUT THEM INTO THEIR OWN HOMES.

Steve says DONNA, YOUR REACTION TO THE MINISTER'S ANNOUNCEMENT YESTERDAY?

Donna says YOU KNOW, IT'S URGENT, IT'S NEEDED, AS I SAID. WE HAVE TO MOBILIZE AN ARMY RIGHT NOW. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE THAT WE WILL NOT HAVE STAFF IF WE DO NOT HAVE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, IF WE DON'T HAVE SHIELDS, MASKS, GOWNS, GLOVES. THOSE ARE THE WEAPONS AGAINST THIS. CERTAINLY WE NEED PEOPLE. AND I THINK TO SAMIR'S POINT, MARSHALING IN TEAMS, S.W.A.T. TEAMS THEY'RE CALLING THEM FROM HOSPITALS AND PUBLIC HEALTH TO HELP WITH DONNING AND DOFFING THE GARB, TRAINING THEM TO MAKE SURE THAT IT'S BEING DONE PROPERLY, ENHANCING OUR STAFFING LEVELS TO ALLOW FOR BETTER INFECTION CONTROL, MORE DIRECT CARE, DEALING WITH THE CRITICAL ILLNESS. THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH TODAY. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO STEP BACK AND LOOK AT WHAT WORKED AND WHAT DIDN'T WORK, AND I THINK MOST IMPORTANTLY WHAT DIDN'T WORK OVER THE LAST NUMBER OF WEEKS, IN TERMS OF THE RESPONSE. BUT RIGHT NOW, THE NEXT FIVE DAYS ARE CRUCIAL. THE NEXT TWO WEEKS ARE GOING TO BE PIVOTAL IN THIS. AND WE NEED TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES AND RALLY THE TROOPS. BUT THERE WILL BE NONE IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE BENEFIT OF PPE. AND THOSE TESTS ARE IMPORTANT IN MY MIND PSYCHOLOGICALLY AS MUCH AS ANYTHING, JUST TO KNOW IN A MOMENT, EITHER YOU HAVE A NEGATIVE TEST OR A POSITIVE TEST. YES, PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE SCIENCE OF FALSE NEGATIVES. BUT INFORMATION IS SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE CAN WORK WITH, AND I THINK, TO CHARLINE'S POINT, WE NEED TO KNOW WHERE SUPPLIES ARE. BUT WE NEED TO SEE IT HAPPENING. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR HOMES HAVE WHAT THEY NEED, AND RIGHT NOW THE SUPPLY CHAIN IS FURNISHED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE PROVINCE, NOT MANAGED BY THE HOMES.

Steve says SAMIR, I DID GO ON TWITTER YESTERDAY AFTER MINISTER FULLERTON'S ANNOUNCEMENT AND I NOTICED THERE WAS A TWEET FROM THE FORMER MINISTER OF HEALTH, TONY CLEMENT, WHO WAS THE MINISTER OF HEALTH DURING SARS 17 YEARS AGO. AND HIS RESPONSE WAS I THOUGHT ALL THIS WAS RECOMMENDED 17 YEARS AGO. WHY HASN'T ANY OF IT HAPPENED YET? LET ME PUT THAT QUESTION TO YOU. NONE OF THIS HAS HAPPENED WHEN IT WAS RECOMMENDED 17 YEARS AGO.

Samir says YOU KNOW, IT'S ONE OF THESE THINGS WHERE, I WASN'T HERE PRACTISING, YOU KNOW, AT THAT TIME, BUT I'M IN A HOSPITAL THAT WAS RAVAGED BY SARS. AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, IT ALLOWED WHERE MAYBE THERE WAS... I DON'T KNOW WHY THINGS WEREN'T DONE. I THINK WE'RE NOW ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS AS TO WHY THOSE THINGS WEREN'T DONE. BUT I CERTAINLY KNOW THAT THE HOSPITAL SECTOR WAS A REAL BIG FOCUS THIS TIME AROUND IN PREPARATION FOR THE PANDEMIC BECAUSE WE WERE WORRIED ABOUT SEEING WHAT WE SAW IN OTHER COUNTRIES AND WE THOUGHT MAYBE THE PROBLEMS IN LONG-TERM CARE AND RETIREMENT HOMES IN OTHER COUNTRIES WERE BECAUSE THE HOSPITALS WERE OVERWHELMED. BUT REALLY, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE'VE BEEN CAUGHT AS FLAT-FOOTED IN TERMS OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS MADE IN THE SARS REPORT BY NOT HAVING STAFF WORKING ACROSS MULTIPLE HOMES, WHICH YOU CAN'T CONTROL WHEN PEOPLE ARE POORLY PAID, NOT AS WELL PAID AS PEOPLE IN HOSPITALS AND THEREFORE HAVE TO WORK MULTIPLE HOMES. BUT THESE ISSUES WEREN'T BEING DEALT WITH. WE HEAR ABOUT PPE, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT EXPIRED, AND THAT WASN'T RENEWED. I DON'T HAVE THOSE ANSWERS. WHAT I'M TRYING TO FOCUS ON RIGHT NOW WITH DONNA AND SHARLEEN IS WE'VE BEEN WORKING CLOSELY WITH MINISTER FULLERTON AND THE TEAM, GIVING THEM THE SCIENCE, MAKING THEM KNOW WHAT WE THINK NEEDS TO BE DONE. I'M REALLY PLEASED, ACTUALLY, THAT THE PREMIER MADE THOSE ANNOUNCEMENTS YESTERDAY SAYING THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE. THAT'S WHAT'S BEEN ASKED FOR AS THE SCIENCE HAS BASICALLY BEEN SAYING THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO. MY FOCUS IS SAVING LIVES AND PARTLY THAT MEANS WE HAVE TO BE TRANSPARENT WITH THE DATA, JUST AS DONNA SAID, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE PPE SUPPLIES ARE, HOW DO WE GET THOSE TO HOMES, ABOUT THE TESTING. BUT ALSO PEOPLE AREN'T SHARING DATA ON HOMES THAT ARE ACTUALLY OUT THERE IN OUTBREAK. AND WHEN WE DON'T EVEN KNOW WHICH HOMES ARE THERE, HOW CAN MY HOSPITAL ACTUALLY HELP LOCAL HOMES WHEN WE DON'T KNOW WHO IS ACTUALLY AT RISK. SO WE'VE BEEN HAVING A LOT OF THESE CHALLENGES AND I DON'T THINK ANYBODY IS AGAINST TRANSPARENCY, BUT WHEN YOU'RE IN A PANDEMIC, THERE'S A LOT GOING ON, AND WE NEED TO GET THINGS IN ORDER SOON SO THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY TAKE DECISIVE ACTION AND REALLY SAVE AS MANY LIVES AS POSSIBLE. TOO MANY OF THEM LOST ALREADY.

Steve says SHARLEEN, I WANT TO PUT A PICTURE UP NOW, OR I'M GOING TO ASK CHAD, WHO IS DIRECTING THIS, TO PUT A PICTURE UP.

A picture shows three people standing in a room wearing garbage bags as protective vests, as well as masks and goggles.

Steve continues IT'S A PICTURE YOU TWEETED, I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S YESTERDAY OR THE DAY BEFORE, BUT ONE OF THE CHARTWELL CARE HOMES. THEY'RE WEARING GARBAGE BAGS. YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. THEY'VE REPURPOSED GARBAGE BAGS TO DOUBLE AS PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. HOW MUCH OF THIS IS GOING ON TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE?

Sharleen says YEAH. YOU KNOW, STEVE, EVERY TIME I LOOK AT THAT PICTURE, I GET SO EMOTIONAL. THEY'RE LOOKING AT WAYS TO ENHANCE THE PROTECTION. SO THEY'VE GOT THE GOWNS ON AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN I ASKED, WHY ARE YOU WEARING THOSE? THEY SAID, TO PRESERVE THE GOWNS BECAUSE THEY ARE GETTING... SOME ARE GETTING TWO MASKS PER WEEK TO WEAR. THOSE GOWNS THEY WEAR ALL DAY LONG, AND WE KNOW THAT THIS IS SPREAD BY CONTACT. SO IT WAS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES, THOSE GOWNS, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO WEAR THEM ALL DAY LONG. AND THAT IS A REAL CLEAR CONTRAST BETWEEN THE VULNERABLE WORKERS DOING WHATEVER THEY CAN TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND CORPORATIONS THAT HAVE THE MONEY TO BE PULLING IN PPE AND PUTTING IT ON THE FRONT LINE, AND I GET CALLS DAILY FROM COMPANIES THAT HAVE GOT THIS EQUIPMENT AND, YOU KNOW, THE PREMIER, HE HAD A GREAT WEEKEND WHERE HE RECEIVED THOSE AND HANDED THEM OUT. PEOPLE ARE DONATING THEM. IN THAT PICTURE, WE WERE CALLING ON CHARTWELL, WHO IS VALUED AT OVER 2 BILLION dollars, TO BUY THEM AND PUT THEM IN AND GIVE THOSE WORKERS THE PROPER PPEs THAT THEY CAN CHANGE REGULARLY, NOT WEAR THEM ALL DAY OR WEAR THOSE SURGICAL MASKS FOR A WEEK.

Steve says DONNA, IS THIS REPRESENTATIVE, THAT PICTURE, OF THE WAY THINGS ARE ACROSS THE PROVINCE?

Donna says YOU KNOW, I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WE'VE GOT TO LOOK AT IS THERE'S FEAR AT PLAY HERE AND WE DO NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYBODY HAS THE APPROPRIATE EQUIPMENT THAT THEY'RE USING THE RIGHT TOOLS THE RIGHT WAY. CERTAINLY THESE NEW S.W.A.T. TEAMS ARE REALLY GOING TO HELP WITH THAT. WHAT I WOULD SAY THAT PERHAPS OTHERS ARE NOT AWARE OF IS CERTAINLY OUR LARGER AND MEDIUM OPERATORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE ACTUALLY IN THE PROCESS OF PURCHASING PPE, BRINGING IT IN, BRINGING IT IN FOR THE SYSTEM FOR SMALL, MEDIUM, AND OTHERS, THOSE THAT CAN'T DO THAT. SO THAT IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING THAT'S UNDERWAY RIGHT NOW, WHILE SUPPORTING THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IN GETTING SUPPLIES AS WELL. I THINK IT'S TRAGIC THAT STAFF ARE SO FEARFUL THAT THEY'RE TAKING MEASURES THAT WAY, BUT I THINK IT WILL BE MORE HELPFUL ONCE WE GET THOSE INFECTION CONTROL FOLKS INTO THE HOMES TO HELP THEM WITH THEIR DONNING AND DOFFING, TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE WEARING IT PROPERLY, TO GIVE THEM THE COMFORT. BUT, AGAIN, THESE ARE WEAPONS. TESTING INFORMATION, CERTAINLY GETTING THE PPE IN, AND I DO KNOW THAT LARGE OPERATORS ARE IN THE PROCESS OF DOING THAT, TRYING TO PROCURE SUPPLIES FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYBODY.

Steve says OKAY. WE PLAYED A CLIP EARLIER FROM MINISTER FULLERTON AND AT THE SAME NEWS CONFERENCE YESTERDAY, PREMIER FORD ALSO WEIGHED IN ON THIS AND HERE'S WHAT HE HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE SUBJECT OF THE DAY. ROLL THAT CLIP, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "April 15, 2020."
In the clip, Premier Doug Ford gives a statement.

He says THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. IT WILL BE CHANGED. AND WITH CONSULTATION, COLLABORATION WITH PEOPLE FROM LONG-TERM CARE, SENIORS RESIDENCE, AND MAKE SURE WE HAVE HIGHER STANDARDS. KEEP IN MIND, 80 percent OF LONG-TERM CARE HOMES ARE PRIVATELY OWNED BUT THEY STILL RELY ON THE GOVERNMENT SO WE HAVE TO, YOU KNOW, RAISE THE STANDARDS. THIS IS A WAKE-UP CALL TO THE WORLD, NOT JUST ONTARIO, RIGHT ACROSS OUR COUNTRY, AROUND THE WORLD, AND WE HAVE TO LEARN BEST PRACTICES OF OTHER REGIONS AROUND THE WORLD AND ADOPT THEM HERE INTO ONTARIO.

The clip ends.

Steve says LET'S PICK UP ON WHAT THE PREMIER SAID. IF THIS IS, DR. SINHA, A WAKE-UP CALL TO THIS PROVINCE TO ADOPT BEST PRACTICES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, WHAT ARE WE NOT DOING THAT WE NEED TO BE DOING GOING FORWARD?

Samir says WELL, YOU KNOW, THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I'VE HAD IS, YOU KNOW, I HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING IN A HOSPITAL, AND IN MY HOSPITAL, A NURSE HERE ACTUALLY GETS A REASONABLE SALARY WITH BENEFITS, LIKE SICK DAYS, FOR EXAMPLE, AND A PENSION. BUT I CAN'T SAY THAT ANY OF MY NURSING COLLEAGUES ARE GUARANTEED THAT ABILITY FOR FULL-TIME WORK WITH BENEFITS, SICK DAYS, AND THOSE SORTS OF THINGS. AND THAT'S WHY WE'VE SEEN SYSTEMATICALLY ACROSS CANADA, IT'S NOT JUST AN ONTARIO THING, WE'VE ALLOWED TO BUILD A SECOND CLASS LONG-TERM CARE SYSTEM WHERE WE'RE NOT TREATING THE WORKERS THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE DESERVED TO BE TREATED BECAUSE THIS IS WHY 80 percent OF HOMES IN ONTARIO AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY WERE REPORTING STAFFING SHORTAGES, BECAUSE FRANKLY, IF YOU COULD GET A JOB AS A NURSE IN A HOSPITAL, WOULDN'T YOU RATHER DO THAT WHEN IT REPRESENTS JOB SECURITY AND MORE RESPECT? AND SO WHEN WE LOOK AT OTHER COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE THIS THING IN CANADA WHERE, WHEN YOU WALK FURTHER AWAY FROM A HOSPITAL, IF YOU'RE WORKING IN HOME CARE, IF YOU'RE WORKING IN LONG-TERM CARE, YOUR SALARY GOES DOWN AND THOSE SUPPORTS GO DOWN AS WELL. IN OTHER COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD, THEY TREAT ALL HEALTH CARE WORKERS EQUALLY. THEY RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF EQUAL WORK, EQUAL PAY. AND THIS IS WHY B.C., FOR EXAMPLE, HAS COME OUT AND SAID, YOU KNOW, THE GOVERNMENT IS JUST GOING TO MAKE ALL THESE EMPLOYEES GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, THEY'RE ACTUALLY GOING TO GIVE THEM FULL-TIME WORK SALARIES. ALBERTA HAS DONE THAT DURING THE PANDEMIC. ONTARIO IS NOW FACILITATING THAT AFTER RECOMMENDING IT. AND THESE ARE SOME OF THESE SYSTEMIC CHANGES THAT MIGHT NEED TO OCCUR, THAT WE NEED TO ACTUALLY TREAT THESE HOMES AS IF THEY'RE HOSPITALS AND SUPPORT THEM BETTER BECAUSE WE'VE REALLY LET DOWN... AND THIS IS NOT JUST AN ONTARIO THING BUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY. WE'VE BUILT A LONG-TERM CARE SYSTEM THAT WAS DESIGNED TO FAIL, AND IT'S STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW AND MY BIGGEST CONCERN AT THE MOMENT IS HOW MANY LIVES CAN I SAVE WHEN THERE'S ABOUT 400,000 ACROSS THIS COUNTRY THAT ARE CURRENTLY AT RISK.

Steve says WE'VE GOT JUST A FEW MINUTES LEFT HERE AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE BOTH DONNA AND SHARLEEN GET A CHANCE TO SPEAK TO THIS. DONNA, DO YOU KNOW WHETHER YOUR MEMBERS ARE GOING TO BE PAID MORE AFTER THIS CRISIS IS OVER?

Donna says WE HAVE TO LOOK AT COMPENSATION, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT OVERHAUL FUNDING, AND WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE THE STAFF THAT OUR RESIDENTS NEED. THIS IS NOT THE RESIDENT POPULATION OF 20 YEARS AGO. IT'S NOT EVEN THE RESIDENT POPULATION OF 10 YEARS AGO. WE'RE DEALING WITH VERY FRAIL SENIORS WHO HAVE VERY HIGH NEEDS. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE THE SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES IN OUR HOMES. AND WE NEED TO LOOK AT OUR REGULATORY AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK AS WELL. GOING INTO THIS, WE NEEDED A SPECIAL ORDER BECAUSE OUR LEGISLATION WOULD NOT ALLOW US TO IMPLEMENT OURw3 PANDEMIC PLA. WE NEED TO LOOK AT ALL OF THESE MEASURES ON A GO-FORWARD BASIS, A REALLY STERN AND REAL LOOK AND BE HONEST WITH EACH OTHER AS TO WHAT WE NEED TO DO BETTER. BUT WE NEED TO DO THIS TOGETHER. BUT RIGHT NOW, FOCUS HAS TO BE ON MARSHALING THE TROOPS, STABILIZING THE HOMES TODAY, AND GETTING THROUGH THE NEXT TWO WEEKS.

Steve says SHARLEEN, UNIONS HAVE BEEN GOOD OVER THE YEARS AT GETTING HIGHER SALARIES FOR THEIR PEOPLE. HOW COME IT HASN'T HAPPENED HERE?

Sharleen says BECAUSE OF THE WAGE CAP. IT WAS ABOUT A YEAR AGO, STEVEN, THAT I WAS BROUGHT TO A CONSULTATION THAT THE GOVERNMENT HELD WITH US, TELLING US THAT THEY WERE GOING TO BE IMPLEMENTING WAGE CAPS ON PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS, AND WE WARNED THEM AGAIN A YEAR AGO: THESE ARE THE LOWEST AND THE POOREST PAID PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS IN THE PROVINCE.

Steve says WHAT DO THEY MAKE?

Sharleen says AROUND 35,000 dollars A YEAR IF YOU'RE WORKING FULL-TIME. AND THEY MAKE AS LITTLE AS 14 dollars... THEY MAKE MORE MONEY IF THEY WORK AT TIM HORTON'S AND BENEFITS AND A FULL-TIME JOB. THEY'RE ENCOURAGING THEIR CHILDREN, DON'T GO INTO THIS PROFESSION. WHEN YOU TAKE AWAY SICK PAY THAT WAS LEGISLATED AND PUT CAPS ON THEIR WAGES AND DON'T PROVIDE THEM WITH FULL-TIME WORK, THIS IS WHAT YOU END UP WITH. AND IT DIDN'T HAPPEN OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. I'VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR TWO DECADES NOW.

The caption changes to "Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says I THINK THIS CONVERSATION IS GOING TO COME AS A MAJOR EYE-OPENER FOR MANY PEOPLE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO WHO ARE WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW. I WANT TO THANK THE THREE OF YOU FOR COMING ON TO TVO TONIGHT AND HELPING US UNDERSTAND THIS BETTER. DOCTOR SAMIR SINHA DIRECTOR OF GERIATRICS. DONNA DUNCAN CEO OF THE ONTARIO LONG-TERM CARE ASSOCIATION. SHARLEEN STEWART PRESIDENT OF SEIU HEALTH CARE. GOOD WISHES TO ALL OF YOU GOING FORWARD AND GOOD LUCK GETTING THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC.

Samir says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Donna says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Watch: Fighting COVID-19 in Long-Term Care