The Ontario government of Premier Doug Ford today denied a request from its own Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission for a time extension the commissioners say is needed because of “significant delays” in obtaining documents from the Ontario government.
On December 9, the commissioners, led by the current Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Frank Marrocco, wrote to the Minister of Long-Term Care Merrillee Fullerton saying “we will not have completed the investigation” in time for a previously imposed April 30, 2021 deadline.
The commissioners say they have hit roadblocks trying to obtain information about “measures to prevent, isolate, and contain” COVID-19 inside long-term care homes between the first and second pandemic waves.
There continues to be “significant delay in obtaining information central” to the investigation, according to the commissioners.
Despite the commissioners’ appeals, in a letter dated December 23, Minister Fullerton told the commissioners the government would not grant any extension and assured the commissioners they would continue to have the “ongoing cooperation” of the Ontario government in providing information the commission.
The commission was established by the Ontario cabinet in late July came amid opposition and public pressure for an independent public inquiry into the causes of the massive death count in long-term care facilities.
In a statement, Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwath said “without question the commissioners should be given all the time required to complete their work,” suggesting they give another interim report by April 30.
“Doug Ford and Minister Merrillee Fullerton have refused to provide information to the Long-Term Care Commission, and now they’re trying to shut down their work entirely. What are they hiding,” asked Horwath in her statement.