For Immediate Release
December 16, 2020 – (xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, BC – The BCCLA is supporting a call for changes to BC policy that is depriving care home residents from seeing their loved ones. Today we released two letters recently sent to the province that called for changes to an unnecessarily restrictive visitation policy that has been causing great harm to residents in licensed long-term residential care and senior assisted living facilities, and to their loved ones.
The first letter to the province was sent by a lawyer at Nathanson, Schachter & Thompson LLP, on behalf of a group of individuals, most of whom are family members of residents in these care and assisted living facilities. Referring to reports issued by the Seniors Advocate of BC and for the B.C. Care Providers Association, the specifies how the restrictions imposed to deal with COVID-19 have resulted in unintended consequences on residents.
The letter from the affected group proposes several practical solutions to resolve this urgent matter, most of which would only require policy changes. Proactive approaches to protecting the health of residents and staff, including rapid testing for COVID-19, are also recommended.
The BCCLA has added its voice to this chorus of individuals asking the province to fix its policy and to institute a proactive approach to COVID-19 testing in long term care and assisted living facilities. In a separate letter to the province, the organization said that it agreed that the rights guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – security of the person and liberty – of people residing in long term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, and the rights of their loved ones, are likely being breached due to current restrictions on visitation.
“The government needs to prioritize the rights of seniors and their families. With the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations beginning this week, we are calling for authorities to remove any unjust barriers to meaningful social contact between care home and assisted living residents and their loved ones,” said Meghan McDermott, Interim Policy Director at the BCCLA.
The BCCLA notes that the province currently has extraordinary powers to alter laws by virtue of the emergency declarations relate to the COIVD-19 pandemic. The civil liberties group is urging authorities to adjust the visitation rules and to deploy rapid testing without delay to protect the rights of and enhance the well-being of seniors residing in facilities governed by the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, and their loved ones.
Media Contact: Meghan McDermott, Interim Policy Director and Senior Staff Counsel, [email protected], 778-679-8906.