- No time like the present: Long-term care advocates, family members hope anticipated report can insipire real changes in standards.
- Summer’s long gone: Omicron’s winter arrival impacting feelings of depression and anxiety, survey says.
- Party promoter does some explaining about now-infamous rule-breaking flight.
- Explore: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isolating after exposure to COVID-19…. How much should market watchers trust Bank of Canada, Fed on inflation?….Get a sense of how many vaccine exemptions have been deemed valid in Canada’s biggest province….LISTEN: CBC’s Front Burner on the controversy over Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcasts dealing with COVID.
Proposed new post-pandemic standards for long-term care set to be released
As hundreds of long-term care homes across the country grapple with new outbreaks of COVID-19, a highly anticipated draft report of national standards for these facilities was set to be released Thursday.
The pandemic exposed fatal weaknesses in Canada’s long-term care sector. In the first few months of the pandemic, more than 80 per cent of Canada’s known COVID-19 deaths happened in long-term care and retirement homes — the highest such rate among countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a result, inquiries were called and reports were commissioned in Canada’s two most populous provinces.
“I was actually very disheartened to see that we did not get the balance right between keeping residents safe from a virus and separating them from their families. The outcome, in many cases, was detrimental to residents,” said B.C.’s former health minister Terry Lake, now CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association.
The federal government launched the project to draft new national standards in spring 2021. The Liberals then promised $9 billion for long-term care during the last election, in addition to the $3 billion over five years already committed in the last budget.
Ensuring the new standards are adopted and enforced will take government money, said Lake, “a lot of money.” Provinces may be reluctant to let Ottawa set standards in their jurisdictions, he said.
“However, if there is a national standard that is funded,” he added, “then I’m sure that provincial and territorial governments would want to ensure that the outcomes that are outlined with that new investment would be met.”
A federal Health Department spokesperson told CBC News in an email that “any legislation will be designed in a manner that reflects jurisdictional responsibilities.”
“The federal government will work collaboratively with provinces and territories, while respecting their jurisdiction over health care, including long-term care,” the spokesperson added.
A technical committee of the Health Standards Organization — an independent, not-for-profit organization — drafted the proposed standards, which will be subject to public input for 60 days. The final standards are expected this fall.
Susan Mills’s mother, Barbara, is an 86-year-old resident at The Grove Nursing Home in Arnprior, Ont., suffering from dementia. Mills believes the forced isolation of pandemic measures accelerated her mother’s decline and hopes a silver lining can emerge out of the collective toll and tragedy in the form of tangible improvements in long-term care.
“In my view, if it’s not done now, it will never be done,” said Mills. “The pandemic has shown the flaws that were obviously there before and not addressed … so if there is no legislation in the coming few years, I would say then there will be no changes to long-term care.”
From CBC News
Anxiety, depression, loneliness at highest levels among Canadians since early pandemic: survey
Anxiety and feelings of depression and loneliness among adult Canadians are at their highest levels — especially among women and front-line workers — since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report released this week by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggests.
Key findings of the survey included that the fear of contracting COVID-19 doubled to 28.3 per cent from 14.2 per cent a year ago. More than 25 per cent of survey participants reported feeling moderate to severe anxiety — up from 19 per cent in July 2021, CAMH said.
“I think for a lot of people, this wave feels different from the other waves, like the rug has been pulled out from under them after they thought the worst was over,” said Dr. David Gratzer, a psychiatrist at CAMH. “I am seeing more pessimism and less resilience than in previous waves.”
Financial stresses, economic hardship and issues around housing are all among the factors contributing to the reported levels of anxiety and depression, Gratzer said.
Consistent with previous surveys, Canadians between 18 and 39 years of age reported the highest levels, with 33.5 per cent for anxiety, 29.1 per cent for loneliness and 27.7 per cent for feelings of depression.
Reports of moderate to severe anxiety, loneliness and feelings of depression increased significantly among women in Canada, but only slightly for men.
“These larger increases among women may reflect that they are often carrying a disproportionate burden, including imbalances in caregiving responsibilities and front-line work,” said Samantha Wells, senior director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH.
A significant jump was also noted for workers with jobs that expose them to a high risk of contracting COVID-19, with 37 per cent reporting moderate to severe anxiety compared to 23.5 per cent last summer.
Jaeyell Kim, a Toronto social worker and psychotherapist, said Omicron has been a significant driver of anxiety.
“People are starting to ask more questions like ‘What if this never ends?’ and I think that really starts to increase the levels of anxiety.”
Read more about other findings as well as the survey methodology.
Sunwing party trip organizer apologizes, plans to sue airline for breach of contract
It was the pandemic party flight heard around the world.
Now, the organizer of a Sunwing charter flight to Cancun that attracted international media coverage says he’s planning to sue the airline for refusing to fly his group back to Quebec from Mexico.
Images from the Dec. 30 flight showed passengers ignoring public health measures, jumping and dancing in the aisle, vaping and openly passing around a bottle of hard liquor. In one video, a person could be seen crowd-surfing while the plane was in the air.
James William Awad said Thursday at a news conference in Montreal that Sunwing “abandoned” the Quebec group of influencers and reality show stars in a foreign country, failing to respect their agreed-upon contract.
“Yes, we saw the videos, there were a few people partying on the plane,” Awad said. “But what happened is that [the airlines] decided to put everybody in the same boat.”
Awad said he does not regret holding the event, but he apologized for the behaviour captured in the videos.
Sunwing cancelled the group’s return flight, claiming its organizers did not accept all the terms and conditions the airline set out to allow passengers to board. Air Canada and Air Transat followed suit, saying they would not fly home any of the participants from the Sunwing party flight.
Awad claimed the party only lasted a few minutes, and said he wasn’t about to police the behaviour of passengers who were adults. If it had gone on for too long, Awad said, the pilot would have chosen to land the plane.
Despite the bans, Awad said all passengers on the original flight were able to return to Canada by about a week after the original return date, although some had to fly through the United States and Panama.
CBC News has asked Sunwing for comment but has not yet received a response. Awad said he would consider additional action against Air Canada and Air Transat, as well.
The federal departments of Transport, Public Safety and Health all launched investigations into the incident. Transport Canada said passengers could be fined up to $5,000 for any offence committed on board the aircraft.
Canadawide trend in active cases, COVID-19 deaths
As has happened with other coronavirus waves and variants, it appears that deaths are lagging the crush of Omicron cases seen early this month and in late December.
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