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Durham Region wants police checks on new residents entering seniors homes

Last Updated Sep 16, 2016 at 7:47 pm EDT

Durham Region is asking the province to amend legislation to be able to ask for criminal background checks for any new resident of its seniors homes.

Durham Region council approved a motion this month to ask permission from the ministry to ask for a criminal history for incoming residents. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care doesn’t allow home operators to collect or ask for such information under the Long-Term Care Act.

“Staff should be able to be aware…so they watch out for that person’s safety and of course the safety of other residents,” said Nancy Diamond, Oshawa regional councillor who voted in favour of the request.

However, some advocates say criminal record checks for seniors will just prevent more individuals from getting a placement in the first place.

“It’s a real red herring, it’s not going to help anything,” said Jane Meadus with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.

Meadus says access to long-term care homes is a right any Ontarian has access to with an OHIP card.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health, said amending to the Long-Term Care Act wasn’t necessary.

“A key tenant of our healthcare system is that police checks are not a requirement for an individual’s access to medical care,” Hoskins said in a statement.

“That said, as minister I do recognize the unique challenges individual residents may present the staff and long term care home at large, and that is why we ensure that additional funds are made available for exceptional circumstances to ensure proper supervision and care.”

Durham operates four homes for the aged.