An Overview of Class Actions and Covid-19 in Ontario’s Long-term Care Facilities

AuthorJordan Assaraf
An Overview of Class Actions and COVID-19 in
Ontario’s Long-Term Care Facilities
Jordan Assaraf
: This article examines the complex considerations that con-
front those pursuing class action lawsuits against Ontario’s long-term
care (LTC) homes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating
impact on the residents of those facilities and their families. I present
an overview of the contexts and circumstances in which Ontario’s LTC
facilities responded to the pandemic. The discussion of several critical
issues associated with the operation of LTC residences is intended to pro-
vide information about the appalling conditions in those facilities and
the Ontario government’s concomitant failures, while also identifying
some of the obstacles confronting plaintif‌fs. The interaction of histor-
ical, political, economic, and social considerations, associated with the
operation of Ontario’s LTC homes, attests to the complexity of the con-
texts and circumstances in which the duty and standard of care in those
facilities, during a pandemic, must be assessed. The challenges involved
in establishing causation with respect to COVID-19 deaths in LTC facili-
ties are integrally related to the “complex, multifaceted, and polycen-
tric”* nature of well-documented, enduring systemic problems, as well as
residents’ age and frailty. The paper examines Ontario’s recent controver-
sial legislative initiatives in terms of the issues presented by the adoption
of “made-in-America” certif‌ication tests, and the retroactive imposition
of a prohibitive standard of negligence.
* The Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care
Homes System (Toronto: Ministry of the Attorney General, 2019), online: https://‌inal-report/.
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Jordan Assaraf**
The impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has been devastating in its reach
and its consequences. In their earliest pronouncements about the dan-
gers posed by the pandemic, federal and provincial public health ocials
identif‌ied seniors as being especially vulnerable to the coronavirus and
issued guidelines intended to protect the elderly. There was not, how-
ever, a corresponding recognition that residents in long-term care (LTC)
facilities constituted an especially vulnerable subset of the senior cit-
izen cohort and that residences were especially dangerous sites for viral
spread. Tragically, multiple outbreaks in LTC facilities during the f‌irst
three months of the pandemic — especially in Ontario and Quebec —
revealed that those homes were COVID-19 hotspots. Due to their age and
their inf‌irmity, LTC residents accounted for almost half of the deaths in
Ontario during the f‌irst three months of the pandemic.1
** Jordan was called to the bar in 2013, and soon assumed his current position of
associate lawyer at Gluckstein Lawyers. Jordan’s practice is devoted to all areas of
Personal Injury litigation on behalf of plaintif‌fs, including class action and mass tort
litigation, occupier’s liability claims, product liability claims, medical malpractice,
and motor vehicle accident claims.
1 Alex Ballingall & Rob Ferguson, “Risk of COVID-19 Is ‘Skyrocketing’ in Long-Term
Care Facilities. Advocates Say Governments Aren’t Doing Enough” Toronto Star (13
April 2020), online:
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