QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Wednesday, Ontario NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky called on the Liberal government to stop ignoring Ontarians living in unlicensed group homes and ensure some of our most vulnerable residents are safe.
Gretzky pressed Premier Kathleen Wynne to finally act before another tragedy strikes.
“On Monday, a fire broke out at an unlicensed group home in Toronto,” said Gretzky. “It’s a miracle no one was hurt, because Toronto Fire Services said that the unlicensed home failed numerous fire code inspections – the owner willfully neglected to upgrade the building. This owner has been taking residents’ disability and pension cheques as compensation, and has pocketed the money rather than make the building safer.”
The Toronto group home at 108 Fawcett Trail was part of a seven-month OPP probe into Toronto group homes, which ultimately concluded that homes were unsanitary, overcrowded and in poor condition. Safety concerns exist at unlicensed homes throughout Ontario.
“The province had the results of this investigation,” said Gretzky. “They knew the vulnerable people in these homes were suffering. They decided to do nothing, because closing the homes would mean that the residents would have nowhere else to go. The Liberal government knew exactly how bad things were. Instead of shutting down haphazard operations, investing in long-term seniors care and mental health supports and facilities, and resettling vulnerable people in safe, affordable housing, this government ultimately condoned these ‘deplorable conditions’.”
In May, New Democrats introduced legislation to make group homes safer and require operators to obtain a licence through a Minister but the Wynne Liberals have not acted, disappointing families with loved ones in care.
“My colleague from Welland introduced a bill that would establish a framework for the licensing of these homes, but the government has stalled this bill in committee,” said Gretzky.
“Will this latest tragedy finally be enough for the government to take action on this legislation, and help our most vulnerable?” asked Gretzky.