Canada Ranks Poorly with Highest Proportional Mortality Rates in Long Term Care Homes

May 13, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Person Holding a Stress BallThe International Long Term Care Policy Network released a paper May 3, 2020 detailing the death rate data from long term care homes across the world. Canada placed last. This new further confirms the poor job we did protecting our elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am attaching the key findings in this post, and you can look here for the entire study Mortality associated with COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: early international evidence, Adelina Comas-Herrera, Joseba Zalakaín, Charles Litwin, Amy T. Hsu, Natasha Lane and Jose-Luis Fernández Last updated 3 May 2020

Please have a look at the document as it is being updated as data becomes available. The preliminary findings are depressing.

  1. Key findings

• Official data on the numbers of deaths among care home residents linked to COVID-19 is not available in many countries but an increasing number of countries are publishing data • Due to differences in testing availabilities and policies, and to different approaches to recording deaths, international comparisons are difficult

• There are three main approaches to quantifying deaths in relation to COVID-19: deaths of people who test positive (before or after their death), deaths of people suspected to have COVID-19 (based on symptoms), and excess deaths (comparing total number of deaths with those in the same weeks in previous years)

• Official data from 13 countries suggests that the share of care home residents whose deaths are linked to COVID-19 tends to be lower in countries where there have been fewer deaths in total

• There have been no infections or deaths in care homes in Hong Kong (only 4 deaths in total and 1,040 cases of infections in the total population) and in Singapore 2 out of 18 deaths have been among care home residents

In the other countries where there have been at least 100 deaths in total and we have official data (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel and Norway), the % of COVID-related deaths among care home residents ranges from 19% in Hungary to 62% in Canada)

• Data for Germany suggests that 36% of deaths would have happened in communal establishments which, as well as care homes, also include prisons and other group living settings

 • There have been large numbers of deaths in care homes in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States but official data for these countries is either incomplete or difficult to interpret.


On March 5, the first outbreak in a Canadian long-term care home was reported in the province of British Columbia (BC), where a staff member at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in Vancouver had tested positive for COVID-197. On March 8, a resident at the home became the first Canadian to die from COVID-19. Since early March, BC’s Provincial Health Officer has provided regular updates to the public on the number of cases and deaths in care homes through press conferences. Similarly, many other provincial medical officers of health and premiers have provided frequent updates on the spread of COVID-19 in Canadian care homes. However, it was not until recently that reports about care homes have been presented systematically as part of the provinces’ epidemiological reports, such as the ones produced by the BC Centre for Disease Control8 starting on March 23 and Public Health Ontario on March 319. Quebec is the latest province to disclose the number of cases and deaths of residents in long-term care homes, as of April 13. Other Canadian provinces and territories have had either no cases or too few cases in long-term care homes to provide meaningful estimates.

In Ontario, the most recently published official numbers on May 2 are based on data exclusively originating from long-term care homes, which are establishments providing care to individuals requiring care 24-hour nursing care and personal support with daily activities. On that day, there was a total 17,553 cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 2,488 (14%) cases among longterm care residents and 1,224 (7%) in long-term care staff from homes with confirmed outbreaks. The official report included a total of 1,216 deaths as a result of COVID-19, of which 590 (49%) were residents in long-term care homes13. Please note that there may be significant under-estimation of the true impact of COVID-19 on populations needing long-term care based on data from the official provincial report due to lags in reporting to the provincial public health agency (Public Health Ontario) and information extracted from the Public Health Ontario Daily Epidemiologic Summary. For instance, the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care reported 954 deaths in long-term care homes on the same day14. The number of cases reported by the Ministry of Long-Term Care were 2,719 (residents) and 1,594 (staff), respectively. The official data source also does not distinguish cases and deaths occurring in other types of private residences for seniors (such as retirement homes and assisted living facilities) from community based individuals. As a result, the number of cases and deaths from long-term care settings is likely much higher than what has been reported by the Ontario Government. To illustrate the magnitude of the under-reporting, recently published counts from the National Institute on Ageing’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Tracker Open Data Working Group suggest there are approximately 6,361 cases and 1,021 deaths from long-term care settings, which includes longterm care homes, retirement homes and assisted living facilities..

Posted under Accident Benefit News, COVID

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