Legal complaint calls Quebec's seniors' homes COVID-19 situation a human rights abuse
MONTREAL -- As COVID-19 ravages Quebec's seniors' residences, a patients' rights group filed a legal complaint, alleging provincial government has discriminated against the elderly.
In their court filing, the group called the situation in Quebec's long-term care and retirement facilities a human rights abuse. The majority of COVID-19 deaths in the province have been tied to those residences and on Thursday, 93 of the 109 new virus-related deaths were centered in them.
Patients' rights advocate Paul Brunet said the Quebec government should have been better prepared and acted a month sooner, given what was known about the situation in other countries.
“Eighty per cent of people dying were in centres, long-term facilities, so there's no reason why we haven't started to test and be more aware of where the crisis was going on,” said Brunet.
Peter Wheeland has been monitoring the situation in seniors' homes carefully. Both of Wheeland's parents, who lived in two different CHSLDs, contracted the virus and he said people in long-term facilities were largely ignored early in the pandemic.
“The government policy was to keep these people, at least in the West Island, in CHSLDs unless they were the most severe cases,” he said. “They kept the hospitals empty by keeping CHSLDs full of sick people and not testing them.”
Premier Francois Legault has called on the Canadian military to send 1,000 members to reinforce the province's long-term care facilities as the healthcare system reported it's missing 9,500 workers. He defended his administration's efforts, saying “I think it's easy after or during a crisis to say 'Oh, you must have been better prepared before the crisis.' It's true, but everywhere in the world, people are under pressure.”
Jewish General Hospital emergency room physician Vinh-Kim Nguyen said the situation has gotten so dire that he's seeing an influx of patients from care homes who aren't suffering from COVID-19 but from dehydration and malnutrition.
“The ability to care for these residents is collapsing in some of these homes,” he said.