British Columbia Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses a press conference at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Long-term care study credits fewer COVID deaths in B.C. than Ont. to funding, policy

The study was published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

A new study says quicker, more decisive action against COVID-19 in British Columbia is one of the reasons the province has suffered far fewer long-term care deaths than Ontario.

Analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal also points to less funding, more privatization and less co-ordination between homes and hospitals as factors that drove spread of the novel coronavirus among Ontario’s most vulnerable.

One of the paper’s authors, Dr. Irfan Dhalla of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, says there’s already been a worrying rise in infections as parts of Ontario grapple with a second wave.

And despite lessons learned from the first wave of the pandemic, Dhalla says front-line workers say the province is still not adequately prepared for a new influx of long-term care cases.

As of Sept. 10, Ontario reported 1,817 resident deaths from COVID-19, compared to 156 deaths in B.C. The number of cases among LTC residents in Ontario totaled nearly 6,000 compared to 466 in B.C.

The study was published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

This week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford pledged more measures to rein in COVID-19 at long-term care homes, including restrictions to visitors in provincial hot-spots starting Monday.

Ford also announced $540 million to help long-term care homes support staff, pay for renovations and bolster infection control.

But the Ontario Long Term Care Association, which represents home operators, has said homes are reeling from a staffing crisis and need more support.

Dhalla says B.C.’s system entered the pandemic with several advantages, including better co-ordination between long-term care, public health and hospitals, more money for long-term care, fewer shared rooms and more comprehensive inspections.

He also credited B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry with quicker action to address staffing and infection prevention and control, as well as harness public support with clear, consistent messages.

“Bonnie Henry has received worldwide acclaim for her leadership, the compassion that she demonstrates from the podium, her willingness to act decisively,” says Dhalla.

In contrast, Ontario’s health system was in a state of flux as regional health networks and several provincial agencies were merged into a single agency called Ontario Health, says the paper.

That saw the departure of several senior leaders who have yet to be replaced, and came amid budget cuts for Public Health Ontario and individual public health units.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The coroner on scene of a workplace fatality in Oak Bay on Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
UPDATED: Dangerous branches delay removal of body in Oak Bay workplace death

Traffic restricted on McNeill Avenue near Byng Road

An artists rendering of the proposed Aragon Properties development in Sooke’s town centre shows a friendly, walkable neighbourhood. (Contributed graphic)
Large housing development eyed for Sooke core

Aragon Properties seeks to build 132 housing units

(Black Press Media file photo)
Be prepared: Know what to do in the event of a Greater Victoria tsunami warning

Localized alert systems can provide potentially life-saving information

The Better Business Bureau is warning people of scammers posing as Amazon customer support. (AP File Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Watch out for Amazon imposters, says scam expert

Better Business Bureau is warning of a rise in Amazon scammers as people online shop more

The Saanich Fire Department is reminding rural Saanich residents to be safe and follow the guidelines when the open-air burning season resumes Oct. 16. (Black Press Media file photo)
Open-air burning season resumes Oct. 16 in rural Saanich

Saanich firefighter talks outdoor burning guidelines, fire safety

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Investigators work at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek. - Image credit: Observer file photo.
Sex workers allegedly called to farm of Okanagan man convicted of assault, RCMP investigating

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

(Black Press Media files)
Early voters more likely to favour NDP, but overall B.C. election is tightening: poll

According to Elections BC, 383,477 people cast a ballot during advanced voting days

Most Read