Ontario Court Certifies Multiple Class Proceedings Against Long-Term Care Owners And Operators For Gross Negligence

March 13, 2024

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has certified six class actions on behalf of thousands of residents and visitors of Ontario long-term care homes who contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic. 

The lawsuits allege that the operators of these long-term care homes were woefully unprepared for a pandemic and failed to take the necessary steps to protect their residents and visitors. In the certification decision, Justice E.M. Morgan noted that “the COVID-19 pandemic was a time of tragedy in Ontario’s LTC homes.” Over 4,000 residents’ lives were lost, with approximately half of those deaths taking place during the first wave of the pandemic. The decision notes that long-term care homes accounted for “some 80% of Canada’s COVID-19 fatalities during the first wave.”

The certified class actions include residents of more than 200 long-term care homes owned and managed by Chartwell Retirement Residences, Extendicare, Responsive Group, Revera, Schlegel Villages, Sienna Senior Living, and their affiliates. Thomson Rogers is class counsel on the actions against Extendicare, Revera and Sienna Senior Living.

 Legislation enacted in 2020 by the provincial government to shield businesses from liability for COVID-19 transmission does not apply to gross negligence. The Court’s decision to greenlight these class actions highlights the gravity of the alleged gross negligence, including corporate LTC operators’ lack of preparedness and failure to take precautionary measures to protect LTC home residents throughout the pandemic.

The Court also noted the profound emotional toll endured by affected families, making a class proceeding the preferred means for seeking justice. It also recognized that “inhibiting the LTC home industry from repeating any mistakes […]” was a significant goal of these class actions.

Moving forward, twenty-three representative plaintiffs will seek justice on behalf of  deceased residents, their families, and visitors in Ontario LTC homes who fell ill from COVID-19 and lost their lives during the pandemic.

The court did not certify two other proposed class proceedings against Ontario municipalities and several other independently owned and operated homes, but indicated that the Plaintiffs may seek to advance those actions as standalone class actions if representative plaintiffs come forward. If you or your loved one were residents or visitors of one of the homes listed here, you may contact Melica Hosseini here for further information.

*Please note that further information on next steps will be provided here once available.

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