TORONTO - Nearly 100 long-term care homes in Ontario missed this week's deadline to install air conditioning in all resident rooms.
A spokesperson for the ministry of long-term care said 529 of the province's 627 long-term care homes were fully air-conditioned as of Wednesday.
That leaves 98 homes without air conditioning in every resident's room.
Legislation passed last year required homes to install air conditioning in all resident rooms at long-term care homes by Wednesday.
The ministry said some homes have experienced delays in installing units in all rooms for a variety of reasons, including global supply chain issues, COVID-19 outbreaks and visitor restrictions preventing contractors from entering homes.
It also said electrical upgrades or changes to building structures are required in some cases.
Vivian Stamatopoulos, a long-term care researcher and advocate at Ontario Tech University, said she thinks the number of homes without air conditioning in resident bedrooms is “horrifying.”
“There's been a lack of real follow through or pressure on these homes by the government to actually comply and to ... expedite the process, given how detrimental heat-related illness is upon older adults,” she said in an interview.
The ministry spokesperson said that all-long term care homes in Ontario have at least one designated cooling area with AC for every 40 residents.
Stamatopoulos said these common areas are often only used by residents for a couple of hours a day.
“And that is only among residents who are able-bodied enough and not bed bound, to be able to get to those common areas,” she said.
“So the most, often, sick and bed bound residents are the ones that will be suffering in their rooms without any measure of air conditioning, and that is the most horrifying part.”
The ministry of long-term care says on their website that older adults, people with chronic medical conditions or with limited mobility and people on certain medications are among those most at risk of illness during heat waves.
“Heat-related illness among this population (in care homes), which is predominantly older, it could be deadly, and has been deadly,” said Stamatopoulos. “People die from this.”
A death-panel report recently released by B.C.'s coroners service said 619 people died there last summer when temperatures surpassed 40 C for days during the so-called heat-dome event.
The panel found 98 per cent of the deaths happened indoors and most were elderly and vulnerable people in buildings without air conditioning
The report said 67 per cent of the people who died were aged 70 or older and 90 per cent were at least 60 years old.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2022.