Government responds to Horwath’s criticism of long term-care inquiry

The Ontario NDP leader was in Sarnia and Wallaceburg on Thursday, August 3

Lynne Withers, a nurse practitioner working in long term-care, meets with Andrea Horwath at a Coffee Lodge in Sarnia. Photo by: Travis Poland/Lambton Shield

Andrea Horwath was in Sarnia on Thursday, August 3, and called for the Ontario government to do more in its public inquiry into problems at Ontario’s long term-care homes.

The Ontario NDP leader called the inquiry a “missed opportunity” and said: “When you look at what they’ve done, they’ve really scoped it to things that are specific to the Wettlaufer murders.”

She continued: “It’s also an opportune time to acknowledge that we have serious problems in our long term-care system and this inquiry can help us determine exactly what’s going on there and find out what we can do to fix it.”

“We want to make sure that its depth is appropriate,” she said.

The inquiry is the result of the case of former registered nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who pleaded guilty in early June to eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder, and two counts of aggravated assault. The crimes occurred over a decade in three Ontario long term-care homes and one private home.

The judge who oversaw the criminal case said there is a chance Wettlaufer– who is now serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years– may never have been caught if she hadn’t confessed to the killings while at a Toronto psychiatric hospital last September.

The Lambton Shield reached out to the Ministry of the Attorney General, who launched the inquiry, and received the following statement from Andrew Rudyk, press secretary in the Office of Yasir Naqvi, Ontario’s Attorney General.

“When setting up this inquiry, we intentionally drafted the mandate to be very broad, including the potential to look at systemic issues of oversight and accountability in the long term care system. We do not believe that politics should drive this inquiry. Rather it should be the Commissioner’s expertise that determines the best course of action. The suggestion from the NDP to include specifics would actually limit the scope of the inquiry. We have given the Commissioner the freedom to take this inquiry in whichever direction the evidence leads and she will determine how best to fulfill her mandate.”

“The inquiry’s mandate is to inquire into: the events which led to the Offences (the eight counts of first degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault); the circumstances and contributing factors allowing these events to occur, including the effect, if any, of relevant policies, procedures, practices, and accountability and oversight mechanisms; and other relevant matters that the Commissioner considers necessary to avoid similar tragedies.”

“The terms of reference set out the scope of the public inquiry, which can be found here.”

A report on the inquiry is due to the Attorney General by July 31, 2019.

Get the Lambton Shield Daily Brief in your inbox:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.