September 16th, 2020

Horwath calls for public inquiry as Ford’s sham long-term care commission starts in secret

QUEEN’S PARK — As Doug Ford’s limited long-term care commission starts in secret, a new letter shows that families who went through horrifying experiences with their loved ones in long-term care during the pandemic may never get a public hearing. Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said this makes clear that Ford’s backroom commission is a sham, and should be scrapped in favour of a full judicial public inquiry.

Last week, Horwath wrote to Justice Frank N. Marrocco, chair of Ford’s long-term care COVID-19 commission, asking about how families could participate. On the heels of revelations yesterday that the commission’s work had already begun in secret, the commission responded, saying there was no guarantee public hearings would happen at all. Never mind that the Long-Term Care Minister promised otherwise at least seven times.

“Too many families have gone through horrifying losses and suffering with their loved ones in Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, and they are being robbed of the chance to make their voices heard,” said Horwath. “The kind of secret process that is playing out behind closed doors right now is exactly what everyone feared would happen when Doug Ford launched a commission instead of a full judicial public inquiry into long-term care.

“I am urging Mr. Ford to scrap his sham commission into long-term care, and give families in Ontario the full judicial public inquiry they deserve.”

The terms of reference Ford gave the commission allow all meetings, hearings and documents to be kept secret, and doesn’t give families standing to guarantee they can all be heard.

Letter from Andrea Horwath (September 10, 2020)

Letter in response from the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission (September 15, 2020)


The Minister of Long-Term care promised there would be public hearings no fewer than seven times:

“It will have public hearings, a public report and the transparency involved in this process is our commitment.” – July 20

“This will be independent, there will be public hearings, and there will be a public report.” – July 20

“That’s what we are committed to doing: making sure that we have transparency, public hearings and a public report. We are making sure that this is public, and we are in the process of getting this together for July.” – June 17

“Ontarians do have questions, and that is what we are going to address with the public commission—public input, public hearings and a public report.” – June 17

“That is why is an independent commission with public hearings, public input and a public report is absolutely critical to making sure that we get to the bottom of this.” – June 2

“In terms of the public input for our independent commission, I want everyone to understand with clarity that there will be public hearings.” – June 2

“There will be public hearings. To construe it in any other way is inaccurate.” – May 27