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Quebec Looking to Ease Restrictions on Senior Care Homes

On May 5th Quebec announced measures to ease restrictions on Senior care homes. This came despite the fact that the province and it’s senior care homes have been devastated by COVID-19.

In short: Quebec has suffered over half of all cases and resulting deaths in Canada due to the virus and its effect on vulnerable seniors, who make up over half of these deaths. Now is not the time to put those most vulnerable at risk again.

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What is Quebec Doing? On Monday Premier Legault announced an easement of restrictions placed on Résidences privées pour aînés (RPA’s). As of May 11th, the Province will begin easing certain restrictions on senior care homes.

Since March 23rd, Quebec has mandated that residents of the provinces 130’000 RPA’s not be allowed to leave unaccompanied. Legault’s announcement allows for residents that reside in homes that currently do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 to take unaccompanied walks. These residents will be allowed to meet with family members outside of the home as long as social distancing measures are taken.

  • RPA’s typically have residents that are independent and do not require higher levels of assistance like those found in the provincially managed long-term care homes.
  • This is a small rollback on restrictions, however, this is entirely inappropriate.

What is Ontario doing? As Quebec eases Restrictions on Senior care homes, according to Ontario’s framework for reopening, the province intends to bolster testing efforts and consistently maintain the safety of vulnerable populations.

This is consistent with other provinces COVID-19 action plan for long-term care homes which includes further testing, faster supply deliveries, and increases in “surveillance”.

  • This surveillance amounts to increasing testing for asymptomatic residents in homes with outbreaks as well as testing residents in homes that have not reported an outbreak as of yet.
  • These actions are pragmatic and take great considerations for the well-being of those vulnerable residents.

The Numbers: Quebec has had 33,417 of the 62,038 cases in the country. Of the active cases in Canada 23,096 of the 31,061 cases are in Quebec. In terms of deaths, Canada has had 4,039 deaths with 2,398 occurring in Quebec.

  • Comparatively, Ontario has had 18,310 cases, with only 4,170 of them being active, and 1,361 deaths.
  • This is all despite Quebec having 8.5 million residents, nearly half of Ontario’s 14.7 million residents.

As reported by CBC on May 5th residents of the Provincially managed long-term homes and RPAs account for more than 60% of the deaths from COVID-19 in the province. 

The bottom line: Quebec has a fine line to walk between maintaining the quality of life and mental health of the 130’000 residents found in RPA’s. However, this easement puts those in homes that were safe from COVID-19 at immediate risk. Given that the province has contributed to more than 50% of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths with 60% of these deaths occurring in RPA’s and CHSLDs, the Province must be more cautious and follow Ontario’s lead in maintaining the security of vulnerable persons.

Read about: Canada’s for-profit long term model care created a COVID-19 disaster.