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Ontario lays first COVID-19 charges against long-term care home in London

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Ontario's Ministry of Labour says it has laid the province's first COVID-19-related charges against a long-term care home in London, Ont.

A spokesperson for the ministry said three charges were laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against Sharon Farms & Enterprises Ltd., which runs the Kensington Village long-term care home.

The home is charged with failing to provide one or more written notices of occupational illness to a director; failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker or workers to protect their health or safety; and knowingly furnishing an inspector with false information.

The ministry said the charges were laid on Sept. 2. The case is next in court on Dec. 6.

Tracie Klisht, executive director of Kensington Village, said the home is currently evaluating the charges.

"It is important to note that the charges that have been laid are not related to any employee's death nor are they related to the availability of PPE for staff and residents. Any suggestion otherwise is misleading and a disservice to our staff and families," Klisht said in an email.

"We'll continue to work with our healthcare partners in our community to provide a safe and comfortable home for our residents and a safe and rewarding workplace for our staff."

Provincial data shows that since April 24, 2020, eight deaths related to COVID-19 have been recorded at Kensington Village.

The Ontario Nurses Association noted that a registered nurse who worked at the home died of COVID-19 on May 11, 2020. It said Brian Beattie was the first nurse to die from the virus in Ontario.

The ONA added that ministry inspectors visited the home more than 10 times between May and June 2020 and issued a number of orders related to hygiene, cleaning, social distance and training.

"ONA sincerely hopes that the mistakes this employer made are a lesson to other facilities to take occupational health and safety, and infection prevention and control seriously," ONA president Vicki McKenna said in a written statement.

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday that he wouldn't comment on the specifics of the Kensington Village charges since the case was before the courts.

But he said his ministry, the Ministry of Labour and public health officials will be working "collaboratively" to bring forward reforms at long-term care homes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press

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