Provincial Update: We’ll hold the ground Voula’s Law established

A headshot of Joel Harden.
Joel Harden. Kitchissippi Times file photo.

By Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre

Earlier this week, I helped a Peterborough family defy a trespass order. 

Diane Tamblyn had been issued a notice of trespass from St. Joseph’s at Fleming long-term care home. The home alleged Diane had “harassed staff,” and would be limited in how and when she accessed the home where John (her father) lives. 

Prior to this week, Diane had made several reasonable complaints about her father’s living conditions. She saw staff working unmasked in her dad’s room, and she had video recordings of staff stepping over her father after he fell in his room, making no effort to help him up. Diane began noticing John had many bruises and was frequently refused baths.  

When she raised her concerns with St. Joseph’s management, no serious action was taken. Diane also attended the Family Council at St. Joseph’s, but she was refused an opportunity to speak. The trespass order forbade Diane from attending any future Family Council meetings. 

I met Diane through advocates we had worked with to unanimously pass Voula’s Law in March 2021 at the Ontario legislature, which stated that trespass orders should not be used when family members make reasonable complaints about the living conditions of loved ones. At Diane’s request, Maria Sardelis—the Ottawa resident whose story inspired Voula’s Law—and I accompanied her to the Family Council meeting this week in defiance of the trespass order. 

We entered the home and signed in with COVID-19 protocols, and were taken by staff to the Family Council meeting room. After some discussion, a management representative appeared and asked “if we needed anything.” 

Family caregivers responded by saying “we need you and staff representatives in this meeting!” 

The management representative refused, claiming she was meeting with “Health Ministry officials” upstairs. She said “the Family Council meeting had been canceled.” 

The families were irate. 

“You were given 30 days’ notice to attend this meeting,” they said, “and now you back out at the last minute?”

Bemused, the management representative turned on her heel and left. Discussion continued, and I heard disturbing stories of harassment, assault and disrespect in this home. 

Advocating for a loved one is not a crime. Folks worked hard to establish Voula’s Law  in Ontario and we are not going backwards. We will hold this ground. 

That is what Diane Tamblyn did this week, and that is what we must do in the weeks, months and years ahead. 

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