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Premier Horgan sees no reason for public inquiry into care homes

No care home inquiry

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B.C. Premier John Horgan says dialogue, and not a public inquiry, is the way to deal with issues within long-term care homes.

Many of those issues around staffing levels and the general care of seniors, have been magnified during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dozens of the 186 COVID-19 related deaths reported in the province have come in long term care homes.

According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, outbreaks remain at two long-term care homes and one acute care facility.

When asked during a Thursday morning press briefing whether he would order a public inquiry into care home conditions, Horgan stated that wasn't necessarily the best way to go.

"We absolutely want to hear from families who have loved ones in care facilities. We want to see where we were, where we are, and where we need to go," said Horgan.

"I believe we can do that through dialogue with public health officials, with operators, with the various health authorities across the province. I don't believe we need a public inquiry to do that."

People with loved ones in care homes across the province have come forward in recent months, complaining of deplorable conditions within some care facilities.

And, while not excusing practices that had been taking place, Horgan did state with the commitment made by health care workers, the situation today is "far superior" to what it was several months ago.

"I'm not for a minute going to try and erase the situation some of these families saw and felt at the time, but I'm very confident we've gone well past that, and we are in a position, unlike any other province in the country, where we can be quite proud with the work we have done, and acknowledge we have a lot more work to do."

Horgan also pointed to the dire state of long-term care facilities when his government took power in 2017.

At the time, a report showed about 86 per cent of long-term facilities were not meeting provincial standards for hours of care per patient.

He pointed to many years of neglect, under funding and trying to squeeze too many people into facilities where there just wasn't room.

"Was there a problem when we arrived, absolutely. Was there a problem five months ago, to be sure.

"The silver lining for long-term care in British Columbia from the pandemic - although regrettably we have dozens and dozens of deaths of people because of the outbreaks - we have learned from those experiences. We were on the right track leading into this, we have more learnings now, and we'll be better going forward."



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