Stakeholders, political opponents question delay in releasing B.C. care home report

Report delays questioned

British Columbia plans to release a report on COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes today, but stakeholders consulted and the Opposition Liberals are questioning why the document wasn't released earlier.

The Ministry of Health commissioned the report by Ernst & Young to learn lessons from the first wave of the pandemic, and more than 40 groups were consulted and it was completed in the fall.

Mike Klassen, vice-president of public affairs with the B.C. Care Providers Association, says his group is concerned both about the delay in the report being released as well as the possibility that recommendations in it could have been acted upon sooner.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said last week that his government has implemented all the recommendations in the report and its assessment of the province's actions was "overwhelmingly favourable."

Opposition Leader Shirley Bond has said that people who had friends or relatives die in long-term care from COVID-19 deserve answers.

More than half of B.C.'s deaths from COVID-19 have been in long-term care facilities.

Jen Lyle, the chief executive officer of SafeCare B.C., says seeing the report earlier would have been nice but at this point just being able to see it will be help inform future pandemic responses.

Lyle says her group had flagged several concerns, including the confusion around messaging and orders from the province compared to local health authorities.

She adds that she hopes the health ministry looks into addressing the issues of staff shortages and access for mental health support for workers.

The B.C. Care Providers Association released their own report examining the response to COVID-19 in seniors care in November, and Klassen says the organization is interested to see what recommendations the government-commissioned report may have that are different.

"We're still seeing outbreaks, we're still seeing fatalities," he says. "Are there things we haven't done yet that our group and perhaps the people that were spoken to in this report have recommended and haven't been acted upon yet?"

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