In The Know

Quebec’s long-term care nightmare caused up to 6,700 needless deaths

A new Economic Note from the Montreal Economic Institute details the deadly cost of Quebec’s initial handling of the COVID-19 crisis within its long term care facilities. 

Quebec has one of the highest recorded COVID-19 death rates in the world with over 10,000 as of March 1, 2021, reported MEI Senior Fellow Peter Onge in collaboration with MEI Economist Maria Lily Shaw.

Seventy-five percent of these COVID-19 deaths occurred in long term care home residences, compared to 59 percent in the rest of Canada. These rates are much higher in contrast to comparable jurisdictions such as France (43 percent), the UK (34 percent), and Germany (28 percent). 

If Quebec’s rates were to fall in line with these European countries an additional 5,800 to 6,700 lives would have been saved. 

Crucially, Quebec made the decision to empty rapidly overcrowding hospitals of LTC seniors and place them into already overburdened senior centres — environments where the virus was already rapidly spreading. 

The result? Quebec’s response “unwittingly engineered a situation in which facilities could harbour the virus and trap its victims inside to get sick and die.”

Quebec’s particular failures highlight a broader truth about Canada’s pandemic response: structural problems within Canada’s care services have “for decades prevented increased resources from reaching those in genuine need. Those services have turned out to be far too frail in the face of the monumental challenge of COVID-19.”

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