Gretzky to Wynne: Deplorable conditions in unlicensed group homes continue to put families at risk

QUEEN’S PARK – For the second time in less than a month, Windsor West NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky is demanding that the Liberal government put an end to the deplorable conditions in unlicensed group homes in Ontario.

“Last week we learned that a 70-year old man named Esa died trying to escape a group home in 2016, where he had been illegally locked inside a mouse-infested basement,” said Gretzky.

“How many people need to lose their lives in order for this Liberal government to take action on unlicensed group homes?” she asked of Acting Premier Deb Matthews.

Unlicensed group homes are often a last resort for people with disabilities, seniors, and those with mental health concerns. In 2016, the OPP launched a seven-month investigation into unlicensed group homes in Toronto, and these findings were shared with the government. The government opted not to shut down these homes, citing a lack of housing options leaving tenants no place else to go.

Gretzky first raised concerns about the conditions in unlicensed group homes last month, after a home that had violated numerous fire codes went up in flames in Toronto. Now, Gretzky is saying that the government must finally act to make these homes safe before yet another tragedy strikes.

“Fifteen days after I questioned the Premier, a woman fell out of bed and died at a group home in Toronto,” said Gretzky. “We don’t know how many vulnerable people are dying in these horrendous conditions.”

“Will the Acting Premier tell us exactly what next steps this Liberal government is taking to ensure that our most vulnerable are not living and dying in deplorable conditions?”

New Democrats are ready to fix group homes for Ontario families and put forward Bill 135, the Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, requiring persons who operate a supportive living accommodation to hold a licence issued by a minister. However, the Wynne Liberals continue to stall this legislation at committee.