Premier Rankin must call an inquiry today

On the anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 announced at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax, Premier Iain Rankin must call for an inquiry into the tragic circumstances that allowed COVID-19 to run rampant.

Halifax weekly The Coast published a devastating article today, detailing the events that unfolded behind Northwood’s closed doors, which resulted in the deaths of 53 Nova Scotians over the next six weeks. The detailed documentation and interviews with family members noted the failure to take early action by the province, a lack of consistency in decision-making, staffing shortages, and the impact of pairing infected and uninfected residents.

The article makes it crystal clear that the Liberal government’s review of Northwood did not adequately depict what happened in the facility.

“The experiences of these families are heartbreaking,” says PC leader Tim Houston. “They went through incredible fear and uncertainty, even as they tell their stories now, and the province must honour their courage with an inquiry.”

Houston and the PC Caucus will commit every question in Question Period today to the topic of Northwood. He says this article has shed more light on Northwood’s circumstances than the Liberal government, which has consistently sought to minimize the tragedy’s discussion and analysis.

“Media plays an important role, but there are times when government must lead the discussion, be fully open and transparent and honest,” says Houston. “The article confirms that a full, open, public inquiry is necessary if we are going to address the impact of staffing shortages, triple-room occupancy, and shared bathrooms.”

Tragically, these are not new issues. The government had a report on its desk for years that would have updated Northwood in 2016.

Houston says Premier Rankin’s recent announcement to create 236 long-term care beds over five years will yield little to no improvement for the aging population in this province, 1,500 of whom are waiting for a bed.

“So much has been lost in this last year,” says Houston. “I am calling on Premier Rankin to announce a fully transparent, detailed inquiry immediately. This government must learn from the tragedy at Northwood if they’re ever going to make better decisions.”