QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Wednesday, NDP Community and Social Services critic Lisa Gretzky was determined to get answers for families facing deplorable conditions in unlicensed group homes.
“Yesterday I rose in this house to talk about a man named Esa, who died trying to escape the horrific conditions in an unlicensed group home,” said Gretzky. “Esa paid the landlord almost $4,000 for one month in that mouse-infested basement, where he was frequently locked inside. Sadly Esa’s situation is not unique. ‘You could see the cockroaches swarming, almost like a moving carpet,’ one man said of his time in an illegal home. Countless other residents have reported unsanitary linens, overcrowding, and going days without food.
“My colleague from Welland introduced Bill 135 in May, which would establish a framework for the licensing of these homes. If the government is not willing to create more spaces in long-term care and affordable, accessible housing, then the very least they could do is to establish a framework for licensing.”
The NDP Bill 135, Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, would make group homes safer by requiring operators to hold a licence issued by a minister. Gretzky said that rather than taking action, the Wynne Liberals continue to squabble over who is responsible and stall this legislation at committee.
“We finally know who is responsible for this issue – the Minister of Health – who yesterday said that it was a “cross-ministry issue,” meaning that the people who have lived and died in these horrendous conditions should look to all the ministries that have failed them. The Ministry of Health has failed to ensure there are enough long-term-care beds, mental health supports, and housing for people leaving hospitals. The Ministry of Community and Social Services has failed people with developmental disabilities who face a decades-long wait-list for housing. The Ministry of Seniors Affairs has failed to address dire issues of seniors living in poverty. The Ministry of Housing and the Poverty Reduction Strategy has failed to provide support to municipalities to crack down on these unlicensed homes with numerous safety violations”
“Saying that this is a complex, multi-ministerial issue does not excuse this Liberal government for ignoring this problem for years. Will we get a commitment for immediate action today so that nobody else has to live or die in these horrendous conditions?” asked Gretzky.