Posted on Apr 7, 2020
OPPOSITION AND MCKENZIE TOWNE FAMILIES CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO CENTRALIZE RESPONSE AND ACT QUICKLY ON LESSONS LEARNED
EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition is calling on the provincial government to immediately provide a centralized response with hazard pay for workers in seniors facilities, priority access to PPE, and stress tests for facility operators’ pandemic plans in response to the rising number of fatalities in Calgary’s McKenzie Towne.
“I know that all Albertans have been shocked and saddened at how many lives have been lost at McKenzie Towne, and how many more residents and staff there are still battling a COVID-19 infection,” said Rachel Notley, Leader of the NDP Opposition. “There are critical lessons that must be learned by the provincial government and they must be acted on immediately to protect the lives of these residents and the lives of Albertans in seniors’ facilities across our province.”
Doreen Gauvreau passed away on Monday in McKenzie Towne. Her daughter Renee Laboucane and niece Nina Vaughan have seen the care levels plummet for their father and uncle, who are also residents there.
“I would like all facilities and Alberta Health Services to ensure long-term care homes have access to the human and equipment resources needed to care for our vulnerable, isolated seniors,” said Laboucane. “I want the government to assist and act early if this happens in another facility. Communication is paramount in any crisis. Family members are fearful for the loved ones who are locked inside. Lack of information exasperated the situation. I want facilities and the government to have a communication strategy and plan ready to go. Families need to be communicated to in an effective and timely manner. They want to know the status of their family members' health and need the ability to check in on them.”
Some workers have been forced to self-isolate. Some have been pressured by their landlords to stay away from the facility. Others have stayed away out of concern for their own families.
“In other provinces, we have seen the government use their emergency powers to take a more robust role in coordinating planning around this crisis in long-term care,” Notley said. “This includes banning staff movement between facilities, a coordinated hiring plan, priority access to PPE, and a vigorous stress test of the pandemic plan for every other seniors’ facility in Alberta.”
The Opposition is calling on the government to specifically examine how operators plan to maintain basic care levels if a significant number of staff can’t work, and how they will communicate quickly and accurately to families.
“It’s clear that McKenzie Towne was not prepared for such a dramatic loss of staff, and we simply cannot let that happen again in another building,” Notley said. “It’s the responsibility of the provincial government to prevent that. If the premier understands the urgency of this, he can act today.”