Abuse allegations push calls for review of Extendicare operations in Manitoba

The company behind a Winnipeg personal care home is facing allegations of serious abuse and mounting calls for a government review.

On Tuesday the Winnipeg Regional Health Health Authority announced an investigation into allegations 15 residents at Extendicare Oakview Place were abused by two staff members.

Read more: WRHA, police investigating alleged abuse at Oakview Place personal care home in Winnipeg

The company that runs the home, Extendicare, has admitted it first learned of the allegations in February, but didn’t notify the WRHA or police before a whistleblower did so earlier this month.

The WRHA has said it has since informed Winnipeg police, who have confirmed a criminal investigation is underway.

Click to play video: '‘It’s a huge coverup overall’ : Family Oakview Place Resident speaks up following allegations of abuse, suspension of employees' ‘It’s a huge coverup overall’ : Family Oakview Place Resident speaks up following allegations of abuse, suspension of employees

‘It’s a huge coverup overall’ : Family Oakview Place Resident speaks up following allegations of abuse, suspension of employees

While details about the latest alleged abuse have not been released, it’s not the first time a staff member at the Ness Avenue care home has been accused of abusing a resident in their care.

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In March 2019 a man who worked as a health care aide at the home was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 67-year-old woman who lived at the home.

Read more: ‘It’s sickening’: geriatrics expert on breach of trust in Winnipeg care home abuse case

The aide, Kevin Noakes, was later convicted of the November 2018 assault and sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail.

At his sentencing last July court heard the victim, who lived with Parkinson’s, was dependent on others for help with physical tasks like dressing, walking, eating and using the washroom.

Click to play video: '2 Manitoba care home aides under investigation after 15 residents were allegedly abused' 2 Manitoba care home aides under investigation after 15 residents were allegedly abused

2 Manitoba care home aides under investigation after 15 residents were allegedly abused

While the victim was physically frail, the court heard she was cognitively aware, and was able to tell her husband about the assault the following morning.

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Noakes, who was 69 at the time of his sentencing, was fired by Extendicare when the allegations surfaced.

In a statement sent to Global News when his charges were laid, Extendicare said it has a detailed screening process in place for staff, including police background checks.

On Tuesday the company, which operates care homes in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, said two health-care aides have been put on paid leave following the latest allegations.

The new allegations and concerns over Extendicare’s response have led to calls from leaders of both Manitoba’s opposition parties for the Progressive Conservative government to begin a review the company’s license to operate in the province.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Health to take over operation of Extendicare’s long-term care services' Saskatchewan Health to take over operation of Extendicare’s long-term care services

Saskatchewan Health to take over operation of Extendicare’s long-term care services – Oct 14, 2021

So far neither the WRHA nor Manitoba Health have commented on the possibility of a review.

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Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew says he’s surprised a review hasn’t already been started, pointing to issues with Extendicare that forced the Saskatchewan Health Authority to take over operation of all of the company’s personal care homes in that province last fall.

Read more: Saskatchewan Health to take over operation of Extendicare’s long-term care services

The move followed a scathing ombudsman report into the deaths of 42 residents at an Extendicare facility in Regina during a COVID-19 outbreak in the winter of 2020.

“Why isn’t the province, why isn’t the PC government, at least reviewing the license here?” Kinew said in an interview with 680 CJOB Wednesday.

Click to play video: 'Daughter shares story after mom dies of COVID-19 at Regina’s Parkside Extendicare' Daughter shares story after mom dies of COVID-19 at Regina’s Parkside Extendicare

Daughter shares story after mom dies of COVID-19 at Regina’s Parkside Extendicare – Dec 12, 2020

“Certainly what we’re hearing is very, very concerning. It sounds like the trust for the seniors, for their family members, has been broken and the government needs to ensure that folks are held accountable for this.

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“We need to be asking some tough questions in this case here.”

Read more: Saskatchewan ombudsman renews call for apology from Extendicare

Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon declined to answer questions from the media at an unrelated event Wednesday afternoon.

Global News later reached out to Gordon’s office to ask if the government is considering a review of Extendicare’s license, but there was no response by press time.

— With files from Rosanna Hempel 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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