Oshawa woman raises alarm over absence of air conditioning units at long-term care home in Lindsay, Ont.

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Mary Anne Flynn, right, pictured with her aunt, Shirley, left, who has been living at Caressant Care on McLaughlin in Lindsay, Ont., for three years.  (Submitted by Mary Anne Flynn - image credit)
Mary Anne Flynn, right, pictured with her aunt, Shirley, left, who has been living at Caressant Care on McLaughlin in Lindsay, Ont., for three years. (Submitted by Mary Anne Flynn - image credit)

An Oshawa woman is fighting for her aunt and other residents of a long-term care home in Lindsay, Ont., to have air conditioning this summer — two years after the provincial government promised to expedite the process.

"There needs to be some sort of ownership from management," Mary Anne Flynn told CBC News.

Flynn says families were told by management at Caressant Care on McLaughlin Road residents would not have air conditioning in their rooms this year because of supply chain issues.

Instead, she says they got a "robocall" in early June saying residents could purchase their own units or use the cooling centres offered in the home.

Caressant Care is one of more than 100 in the province that still don't have air conditioning installed, as the province's June 22 deadline approaches and the weather gets warmer.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced he would mandate all homes to have air conditioning in resident rooms  after CBC News pressed him. The legislation wasn't introduced until fall of the following year.

"I can't let a company that makes millions of dollars make the people in that building uncomfortable," said Flynn. "They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity."

When contacted by CBC News, Caressant Care spokesperson Stuart Oakley said in a statement, "If a resident or family member requests an AC unit, one will be provided to them at no cost."

He also said the company is aiming to install permanent units starting mid-July with the work completed by mid-August.

Oakley said the home requires roof top units but delivery takes up to 16 weeks from the time they are ordered. He said the province is aware of the delay.

This plan simply isn't good enough for Vivian Stamotopoulos, a long-term care researcher and advocate at Ontario Tech University, who points out the government and homes had two years to order and install the units.

"We haven't dealt with the negligence that remains," she said.

"Long-term care has frankly never really been at the forefront of this government's agenda."

According to the Ministry of Long-Term Care, approximately 77 per cent of homes and 79 per cent of all resident rooms are reporting as fully air conditioned as of June 7.

It says 18.7 per cent of homes are in the process of installing air conditioning, 2.9 per cent are working toward an air conditioning solution, and about 0.6 per cent of homes are "outstanding."

The ministry attributes delays to supply chain issues, visitor restrictions preventing contractors from entering homes, weather issues and complex structural challenges.

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