Taras Natyshak MPP, Essex

Government of Ontario

NDP Ethics critic comments on PC insiders joining for-profit long-term care to lobby Ford government

Published on May 21, 2020

QUEEN’S PARK — Since the pandemic began, the big three for-profit long-term care corporations have hired close Doug Ford allies to protect their financial interests by lobbying Ford and his government. Since the pandemic began, at least four top Ford allies and senior staffers have registered to lobby the government on behalf of the big three: Extendicare, Revera and Chartwell.

That information was revealed Wednesday by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath — and Official Opposition Ethics and Accountability critic Taras Natyshak says it has left people worried, and left the Ford government with some explaining to do.

“The big for-profit corporations have put Doug Ford’s closest friends and allies on their payrolls to lobby the government — and that should worry everyone who wants to see an overhaul to our abysmal long-term care system,” said Natyshak.

“In the NDP, we believe it’s time to get the for-profit corporations out of long-term care, because they’re cutting corners when it comes to care so they can bank the difference. And we’re seriously concerned that’s not going to happen as long as senior players on Team Ford are on the payroll for these massive private for-profit long-term care corporations.”

Information revealed by the Official Opposition includes:

  • Melissa Lantsman registered April 27 to lobby Doug Ford’s office on behalf of Extendicare. Lantsman was Ford’s campaign spokesperson and war room director in 2018 and currently serves as Vice-President of the PC Party of Ontario and as a member of the PC 2022 election readiness committee leaders advisory council.
  • Lauren McDonald, Premier Ford’s former Director of Marketing, registered May 7 to lobby the Ontario Government on behalf of Revera.
  • Michael Wilson, former Chief of Staff to the Attorney General in the Ford government, registered May 5 to lobby Ford’s office on behalf of Revera.
  • Leslie Noble, former PC campaign manager and party stalwart, registered March 31 to lobby Ford’s office on behalf of Chartwell Retirement Residences.

“Every dollar that flows to long-term care should be spent on caring for seniors and paying staff properly, not siphoned away for corporate profits and shareholder dividends,” said Horwath on Wednesday. “It’s shocking, quite frankly, to see private long-term care providers pocketing a profit while seniors in their homes are suffering so horribly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Private for-profit long-term care corporations continue to post annual revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario opened the gates to private for-profit long-term care homes in the 1990s, a move by former PC premier Mike Harris, who is now the chair of the board of Chartwell, a massive private for-profit long-term care corporation.