2 health-care aides charged with assaulting residents at Winnipeg's Oakview Place

·3 min read
Winnipeg police say two health-care aides at Extendicare's Oakview Place personal care home have been arrested. The health region says they are on leave. (Erin Brohman/CBC - image credit)
Winnipeg police say two health-care aides at Extendicare's Oakview Place personal care home have been arrested. The health region says they are on leave. (Erin Brohman/CBC - image credit)

Two health-care aides have been charged with assaulting residents of a Winnipeg personal care home — a facility that reportedly knew about allegations of abuse as early as February, but failed to report them to the regional health authority or police.

The care aides are accused of inappropriate physical actions against five residents of Extendicare Oakview Place, in Winnipeg's Sturgeon Heights neighbourhood, between August 2021 and January 2022, a Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson said.

None of the victims required medical treatment as a result.

"Their investigation was quite lengthy and involved numerous interviews with witnesses, potential witnesses; they would have spoken with family members as well as the victims themselves," Winnipeg police Const. Dani McKinnon said in an interview on Tuesday.

"[Investigators] came to the conclusion that the assault charges were the most appropriate charges to lay."

A 49-year-old woman and a 36-year-old woman were arrested on Monday, police said in a Tuesday news release. The former is charged with three counts of assault, while the latter is charged with two counts.

Both were released from custody with a number of conditions.

The charges come after the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said in June that two whistleblowers came forward with allegations two care aides had abused 15 residents of the privately owned care home.

The allegations were first brought to the attention of local Extendicare management through a whistleblower in February, the health authority said.

However, the WRHA was not informed until it was approached directly by another whistleblower on June 10, according to a news release later that month.

CBC
CBC

Although there are allegations 15 residents were assaulted, charges were laid only in connection with five residents.

It's not clear whether there will be more charges, McKinnon said Tuesday.

"At this stage, I have no indication of any other victims," she said.

In an online statement Tuesday, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said its staff are now visiting Oakview Place regularly to identify and mitigate any risks, and to ensure that resident care is meeting standards.

"The alleged actions of these two staff are not a reflection of the values or the safe, compassionate and quality care the vast majority of personal care home workers provide every day," the statement said.

The two health-care aides remain on leave, the statement says.

At a June news conference, an Extendicare spokesperson said the fact neither the health authority nor police were alerted about the allegations in February was a breach of the company's protocol.

"It's completely unacceptable that this did not take place, and for that we unreservedly apologize to the residents, their families and to the WRHA," Sandra Goers, the company's Manitoba regional director and director of operational quality for Western Canada, said at the time.

"You deserved better than this and we will do better."

Operating licence under review: province

In an email sent to families of Oakview Place residents on Tuesday, which was obtained by CBC News, Extendicare says it was told by police the two health-care aides facing the criminal charges are not allowed on site, nor are they allowed to be in contact with any of victims.

The company says it will hold a virtual town hall on Wednesday to answer family questions.

A provincial government spokesperson said Tuesday a review of Extendicare's operating licence for the facility was launched on Aug. 31.

While the review is ongoing, Oakview Place will be subject to unannounced visits by the licensing and compliance branch, and will be compelled to provide "regular updates" regarding any new allegations or complaints, the spokesperson said.

Uzoma Asagwara, the health and seniors' care critic for Manitoba's Opposition NDP, called on the Progressive Conservative government to install a seniors' advocate "to give seniors and their families a voice."