Long-Term Care Ministry accuses NDP leader of politicizing Roberta Place tragedy

NDP leader fires back, saying Ford government didn't allocate enough funding to home

On Wednesday, the leader of Ontario’s Opposition told Barrie 360 the Ford Government’s inaction surrounding long-term care had led to a “humanitarian crisis” at Roberta Place in Barrie.

The Ministry of Long-Term care says the tragedy is being used by the NDP for political gain.

Krystle Caputo, Senior Communications Advisor for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, told Barrie 360 the Fall Preparedness Plan and the budget drawn up by the Ford Government contained an allocation of $584,600 in prevention and containment funding for Roberta Place, but that the NDP voted against it. “It is very disappointing that the NDP would seek to politicize this tragedy, especially after they voted against funding for key outbreak measures in the government’s budget,” said Caputo in an email to Barrie 360 Thursday afternoon.

RELATED: ANDREA HORWATH TO HOST VIRTUAL TOWN HALL TO DISCUSS LONG-TERM CARE IN BARRIE FOLLOWING TRAGIC ROBERTA PLACE OUTBREAK

Horwath fired back, saying in an email to Barrie 360 the budget was voted against because it didn’t go far enough. “The NDP voted against a budget that did not contain the words ‘Roberta Place’ anywhere in it. The Ford government’s budget did not allocate enough funding for long-term care – not even close – which is one of the reasons we voted against it,” said Horwath. “Doug Ford has been sitting on billions in COVID funding that should have been used for things like infection prevention and control in long-term care homes. He chose not to.”

The provincial budget tabled in November did contain $405 million in prevention and control measure funding for long-term care homes, but did not specify where the funding would go.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Roberta Place has received $739,600 in prevention and containment funding to ensure that the home has access to the supports they need to fight this terrible virus,” added Caputo. “The home’s staff, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, the public health unit, the Royal Victoria Hospital, Ontario Health, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association have all been working around the clock to stabilize the home.”

“This government needs to stop pretending like things went right at Roberta Place. People suffered and died, and it didn’t have to be this way,” Horwath concluded.

To date, there have been 70 deaths connected to Roberta Place’s COVID-19 outbreak, 69 of which were residents. All 128 people who lived at the home were infected over the course of the outbreak.