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Ontario launching long-term care home investigations unit

By CJ Goater Jan 15, 2024 | 2:17 PM

Stan Cho Sceen Capture via Government of Ontario Announcement Youtube

The Ontario government has created a new investigations unit to help ensure every long-term care home is maintaining provincial standards.

The new 10-person unit is supported by an investment of $72.3 million and will function as a deterrent and tool when escalated enforcement is needed to improve compliance and ensure resident safety.

The unit is now active and will investigate allegations such as failing to protect a resident from abuse or neglect, repeated and ongoing non-compliance, failing to comply with ministry inspector’s orders, suppressing and/or falsifying mandatory reports, and negligence of corporate directors.

“These new investigators have the authority to add more accountability in the long-term care sector and will help address the most serious forms of non-compliance,” said Stan Cho, Minister of Long-Term Care. “The new unit complements what is already the toughest inspection and enforcement program in Canada, helping give residents the safety and quality of care they need and deserve.”

The newly appointed investigators completed comprehensive training over 19 weeks which consisted of in-class training, self-study modules and field experience. The training covered all aspects of the inspection program, the relevant legislation and regulation, investigative techniques such as interviewing, search warrant and report writing, as well as court procedures.

The new unit’s investigators are designated as Provincial Offences Officers under the Provincial Offences Act and will investigate allegations of offences under the Fixing Long-Term Care Act.

While inspectors identify and address non-compliance under the Act, investigators determine if there are grounds that an offence under the Act has been committed, which if prosecuted could result in fines and/or imprisonment.

“The creation of this new investigations unit under the Fixing Long Term Care Act marks an important step forward to continue protecting Ontario’s long-term care home residents,” said Attorney General, Doug Downey. “By providing investigators with the ability to refer cases to prosecutors as needed, this team will help to improve compliance with the Act, keep residents safe and provide comfort and certainty to residents and their families.”

The work of the Investigations Unit will complement Ontario’s existing inspections program and is in addition to a wider suite of changes the government introduced over the last two years to strengthen compliance and enforcement in the long-term care sector.

“Ontario’s long-term care homes who are providers of affordable housing and specialized care are committed to the well-being of their residents and providing high-quality care. There is zero tolerance for abuse,” said Donna Duncan CEO of Ontario Long Term Care Association. “Major transformation is happening across the province as homes seek to replace older buildings and create new models of emotion-focused and person-centred care. We look forward to the province’s continued support in addressing long-standing systemic issues including a significant staffing shortage across the health care system and the need to rebuild Ontario’s older long-term care homes.”

The new measures include doubling the number of inspectors in the field, implementing a new and more efficient IT system for inspectors to track their work, and introducing new compliance and enforcement tools like administrative monetary penalties and re-inspection fees.