April 15th, 2021

Families deserve answers - Public Inquiry required into COVID-19 deaths at Northwood

HALIFAX -- The NDP is renewing its call for a Commission of Inquiry into long-term care, as new information has been published about the COVID-19 outbreak at Northwood in Halifax last spring. In total, 53 residents of Northwood died with COVID-19 last spring. In Nova Scotia there have been 66 deaths from the virus.

“Over the last year, the staff and residents of long-term care have faced some of the most difficult conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “The families and loved-ones of those who died last spring during the outbreak at Northwood and those who have faced severe restrictions for so long deserve to know what happened, why it happened, and what will be done to make the improvements that are needed.”

The NDP Caucus tabled legislation last month entitled the “Commission of Inquiry into Long-term Care Act.” The Commission would be given the power to investigate the state of long-term care in the province and make recommendations about funding, staffing levels, minimum hours of care per resident per day, and many other factors.

The Liberal government cut $5 million from long-term care budgets during its first five years in power. The Liberals also repeatedly denied Northwood the necessary funds to address the use of shared rooms in the facility for three years prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is clear that there were preventative measures that could have saved lives at Northwood and could prevent future deaths from infectious disease. An inquiry would help identify why these measures were not taken,” said NDP Health spokesperson Susan Leblanc. “We owe the people who have lived and worked through this unimaginable tragedy to make sure we fully understand what went wrong and commit to making systemic changes that are needed in long-term care.”

The Liberal government has indicated it will make an additional $209 million in cuts to programs and services in 2022 in order to meet its four-year fiscal plan.