Class Action Commenced Against Altamont Care Community

June 1, 2020

Thomson Rogers has issued a class action proceeding claiming $20 million on behalf of residents of Altamont Care Community and their families.

Altamont is a long-term care home owned by Sienna Senior Living Inc., located in Scarborough, Ontario. At least 53 residents at Altamont have died as a result of contracting COVID-19 and related illnesses since March 17, 2020.

One of the representative plaintiffs is Vasuki Uttamalingan. Vasuki’s mother and father were both residents at Altamont. Vasuki’s father contracted COVID-19 while residing at Altamont and died on April 21, 2020. He is survived by his wife, 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Vasuki’s mother contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalised for several weeks. She remains in recovery.

Another representative plaintiff is Pahirathan Pooranalingam. Pahirathan’s mother was a resident at Altamont until she was transferred to hospital after contracting COVID-19. Pahirathan’s mother died in hospital on April 25, 2020. She is survived by her 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Vasuki and Pahirathan represent family members of the victims who have lost loved ones, without given the opportunity to say good-bye, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak at Altamont.

It is alleged that Altamont was cited for corrective action by the Ministry of Long Term Care in 2019 (in reports dated February 26 and November 8, 2019) for its failure to ensure that staff participate in, and comply with, an infection prevention and control program, as well as its failure to document infection among its residents.

It is alleged that following Ontario’s declaration of a State of Emergency on March 17, 2020, Altamont failed to implement screening measures of its staff and basic social distancing practices, including the separation of infected and non-infected residents. It is alleged that during this period, there was severe under-staffing at Altamont and a failure to provide basic personal protective equipment to Altamont’s staff.

On April 27, 2020, the Canadian Armed Forces was deployed to Altamont to monitor the “severe deficiencies and shortfalls” at Altamont.

On May 26, 2020, the Canadian Armed Forces released a report which documented the horrendous living conditions at Altamont, including:

  • inadequate nutrition with residents not receiving 3 meals a day;
  • residents being bed bound for several weeks, leading to serious and untreated pressure wounds;
  • residents not receiving bathing and basic hygiene; and,
  • not tracking resident rooms and bed locations.

In addition, significant staffing shortages were identified including periods where no support workers and/or administrative staff were present.

In response to the report, Ontario Premier Doug Ford stated: “The reports they provided us were heartbreaking, they were horrific, it’s shocking that this can happen here in Canada. It’s gut-wrenching and reading those reports was the hardest thing I’ve done as Premier.”

Dr. Merrilee Fuller, Minister of Long Term Care, commented that, “what we saw in the reports from the Canadian Armed Forces was gut-wrenching and appalling.”

The Canadian Armed Forces deployment at Altamont has been extended to June 12, 2020 and the Ministry of Long Term Care has started the process of appointing temporary management at Altamont.

Vasuki, Pahirathan and their families, as well as other families of the victims and survivors of Altamont, seek compensation for their tragic losses. Vasuki and Pahirathan support the proposed independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system, which they hope will result in meaningful change to ensure that a tragedy like this is never repeated in Ontario’s vulnerable long-term care population.

For further information regarding this claim, please contact Stephen Birman at Thomson, Rogers at (416-868-3137) or Lucy Jackson at (416-868-3154).



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