Tweets spanning 2012 to 2015 from Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care, appear to show that Fullerton supported the privatization of public health care.

In the tweets, which appear to have since been deleted, Fullerton calls private healthcare “necessary” and compares Canada to North Korea on the basis of our healthcare system.

The surfaced screenshots of the tweets come on the heels of a damning report by the Canadian Armed Forces that painted a disturbing picture of horrific conditions in several private long-term care homes. The regulation and inspection of such homes falls within the responsibility of Fullerton’s Ministry.

The report alleges that residents of multiple private long-term care facilities were kept in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

“Military personnel discovered a ‘general culture of fear to use supplies because they cost money (fluid bags, dressings, gowns, gloves, etc.)’ as well as ‘expired medication’ being used on patients,” a Toronto Star story on the report claims. “Residents were not allowed to have an extra soaking pad for their beds if they became soiled and CAF members ‘witnessed aggressive behaviour’ that they believed was ‘abusive/inappropriate.'”

At another privately-owned facility, similar conditions were found by soldiers dispatched to assist in care:

“Most residents were not getting three meals a day due to ‘significant staffing issues.’ The military reported ‘poor nutritional status due to underfeeding.’ A significant number of the home’s residents had pressure ulcers due to prolonged bed rest, in some cases for several weeks. ‘No evidence of residents being moved to wheelchair for parts of day, repositioned in bed, or washed properly.'”

The problems detailed in the report highlight the deficiencies of private long-term care homes, and have brought to public attention issues raised by workers for years.

It is unclear if Minister Fullerton still supports the privatization of more aspects of the healthcare system, but the performance of private long-term care facilities during COVID-19 certainly appears to have undermined that position.