MPP Sandy Shaw (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas) has forced a vote on her bill to dismantle the toothless and ineffective Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) and place retirement homes under direct supervision of the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. The Ford Conservatives blocked that bill, voting it down 35 to 19.
“Our beloved parents and grandparents deserve better than a sector that prioritizes profit margins over comprehensive care,” said Shaw. “Some retirement homes are great. But the RHRA has been useless when it comes to stopping greedy operators from cutting corners to pocket more profits. It’s time to replace the RHRA with effective oversight that will protect seniors' well-being, their quality of life, their health, and their safety.”
The RHRA’s job is supposedly to keep residents safe, but its board has been occupied by for-profit executives and retired politicians who have an inherent conflict of interest. Ontario’s Auditor General has revealed that multiple parties have sounded the alarm about inadequate staffing and poor resident care. The Audit also reported that retirement homes with repeated violations and non-compliance orders have been permitted to continue to care for seniors, those waiting for placement in long-term care, and other adults with complex medical needs, without being required to make real changes.
Failures in the RHRA’s regulatory oversight regime resulted in the horrors that unfolded in Hamilton and Niagara, where the Martino family was licensed to operate multiple homes despite repeated concerns. One Martino-owned home, Rosslyn Retirement Residence, had violations, complaints and compliance orders dating back to 2016. During the pandemic, 64 out of 66 Rosslyn residents contracted COVID-19, along with 22 staff. 16 residents died. The on-site conditions were so appalling that families of residents have filed a class action lawsuit.
“Self-regulation is ineffective, and in this case irresponsible. Retirement home residents have been failed by successive governments. We can do better, which is why the Ontario NDP is taking action,” said Shaw.
The Retirement Home Justice and Accountability Act would amend the Retirement Homes Act by dissolving the RHRA and placing retirement homes under direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility.