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Canadian Nurses Association responds to Wettlaufer inquiry report

Ottawa, July 31, 2019 – The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) thanks Justice Eileen Gillese and her team for their work on the final report of the Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System. They delivered thoughtful recommendations. We agree with the findings that there are systemic vulnerabilities in the long-term care system that requires fundamental systemic changes.

“CNA is horrified by the circumstances of the deaths that were investigated in this inquiry. We are fully committed to advocating for long-term care facilities to be a safe place to live in Canada. This is a very significant sector of the health system that provides care to some of the most vulnerable people. While there is a deep commitment to excellence in care, there is a need to inject funding and provide other conditions that support that goal. We call on governments to work with all stakeholders, including the Canadian Nurses Association, to deploy the right mix of providers delivering the right kinds of care at the right time,” said CNA president Claire Betker. But, she added, “to make that a reality, we have to build the kind of career excitement into home care and long-term care that we have long dedicated to places like critical care units.”

“This issue is not unique to Ontario — it’s Canada-wide. It’s also not a new issue. We have an aging population that requires more complex care; however, there is a critical shortage of front-line workers and a need to look at allocating more resources for training on a range of issues,” said Betker.

Due to limited staffing, nurses often work with minimal supervision and are forced to prioritize challenges. CNA agrees with the recommendation to re-evaluate the mix of staff required and increase the funding envelope to ensure safety and meet the needs of people requiring long-term care. To ensure safe staffing, long-term care systems must use the best evidence and sound judgment to determine volume and intensity of the care needs of people.

There is a need to shift to the “just culture” spoken to in the report — where health-care workers feel safe to report suspicious behaviours. This will help lead to improved patient safety. Voluntary reporting and effective monitoring systems must be in place to capture and analyze information about hazards, adverse events, harm and other patient safety concerns. Patient safety and quality care needs to be at the core of the long-term care system.

We applaud the Ontario government’s initial reactions to the first two recommendations, and we await their full response to all the 91 recommendations in the coming weeks. CNA will work with the Ontario government and all parties to help rebuild shattered confidence, and to put the structures in place to build safe care systems for all people receiving long-term care.


The Canadian Nurses Association is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing, representing 135,000 nurses in all 13 jurisdictions across Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

For more information, please contact:

Eve Johnston
Media and Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Tel: 613-237-2159, ext. 114
Cell: 613-282-7859
Email: ejohnston@cna-aiic.ca