The North Shore has been hit devastatingly hard since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in February.
Long term care homes in our community were not only some of the first impacted but sadly, we also experienced the first COVID-19 death in Canada at the Lynn Valley Care Home.
It was heartbreaking to hear Dr. Bonnie Henry’s updates, which day-after-day during the height of the pandemic, reminded us all what a difficult challenge our community was facing.
Months later, I am still deeply saddened by the deaths and my thoughts remain with the families and care aids who looked after these residents.
As the crisis grew, I received many emails and calls from frantic loved ones who were worried about their elderly relatives.
Maintaining usual communication levels was a challenge, the care home faced staff shortages and — in some instances at the beginning of the pandemic — staffing levels were impacted because people feared for their own health and wanted to stay home.
The pandemic shed critical light on the several gaps that exist in our senior care support in British Columbia. Seniors have been disproportionally impacted and, tragically, represent most of the deaths our province has experienced.
With much about the virus still unknown, the NDP government needs to take action to fill those gaps exposed by COVID-19 as soon as possible before we lose any more lives to the pandemic.
Andrew Wilkinson, the Leader of the Official Opposition, sent a letter to the Premier in June with a series of recommendations the government could take to help fill these noted gaps in our long-term care system.
First and foremost, the NDP should launch a thorough and independent review to better inform regulators on the physical, medical and staffing requirements that were lacking so we don’t see the same critical issues again that we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also need to take steps to create a comprehensive staff resource strategy to meet the growing demand for staffing in seniors’ care and providing support for residents and staff incurring the costs of implementing COVID-19 health and safety measure in senior care facilities.
Jane Thornthwaite is a MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour. She is the Official Opposition’s critic on Mental Health and Addictions and has been appointed to the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts.