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Bill 129 retroactively cancels lawsuits against long term care homes, NDP health critic says

Ontario's NDP health critic says she's concerned the province will pass a bill that makes it more difficult to sue long-term care homes.

Province says bill won't protect 'bad actors' who willfully, or through 'gross negligence,' endanger others

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas says Bill 218 prevents people from retroactively pursuing legal action against term care homes. The bill has passed second reading and is currently under consideration from the Standing Committee on Justice Policy. (Myriam Fimbry/Radio-Canada)

Ontario's NDP health critic says she's concerned the province will pass a bill that makes it more difficult to sue long-term care homes.

Bill 218, 'Supporting Ontario's Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020', recently passed second reading at Queen's Park.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas says the bill prevents people from retroactively pursuing legal action against long term care homes — and families with loved ones in long-term care want answers.

"If you've read the Armed Forces report, you will see that some people died of starvation. Some people died of dehydration, they didn't have enough to drink. Some people died in their own feces infected with bed sores."

Gelinas says the act prevents lawsuits that are currently pending from moving forward.

Meanwhile, the province says the companies that own the homes have made a "good faith" effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But Gelinas says the courts should make the final decision.

She spoke about the issue with Morning North CBC host Markus Schwabe.

France Gélinas joined us for our Report from Queen's Park this week. She's the MPP for Nickel Belt and the health critic for the NDP. She spoke to us about the rising trend in COVID numbers, the work of public health units, Bill 218, Ontario's Recovery Act, and the latest provincial budget. 9:25

The government has said the legislation will not protect "bad actors" who willfully, or through "gross negligence," endanger others.

Critics like Gelinas say the move creates a higher threshold for families of residents to prove not only negligence but gross negligence, without the financial resources of multi-million dollar long-term care and retirement home companies. 

"Let the courts decide if they meet the threshold for negligence," Gelinas said.

"There's only three big, large chains that will benefit from from this bill. And it is to protect those chains that are really, really closely linked to the to the Conservative Party. The whole thing stinks."

Bill 218 has passed second reading and is currently under consideration from the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

"Lawyers have come forward to say, 'we've all of these trial lawyers [that] have already filed lawsuits through the courts. They have a good case'," Gelinas continued.

"And now they're coming to us [to] say, 'if this bill passed, we haven't got a chance in hell to ever getting justice for the families that lost their loved ones in circumstances that should have never happened in Ontario'."

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