Falling Through the Cracks: Long‑Term Care and COVID‑19

Panel Discussion

Briefing Note


This event took place on Thursday February 18, 2021

Presented by the MacEachen Institute and the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.

COVID-19 has overwhelmed long-term care (LTC) facilities across the country, leaving Canadian’s shocked by the devastation. LTC facilities account for nearly 11% of COVID-19 cases in Canada and over 70% of total deaths. While the largest proportion of cases in Canada are among those 20-29, nearly 97% of deaths have been among Canadians over the age of 60.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing deficiencies and challenges in the delivery of long-term care in Canada. Many stakeholders are calling for national standards, but there are questions about the best approach. Should we amend the Canada Health Act to include LTC or develop new legislation? Long standing staffing challenges will also need to be addressed, such as equitable and permanent pay and benefits for care aides, mental health supports for all staff; and improved and required data collection. A coordinated approach between Federal and Provincial/Territorial Governments will be necessary.

About the Speakers

Pauline Dakin

Pauline Dakin is a professor of journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax. She spent more than 20 years with the CBC, most of that time as the national health and medical reporter, and the host of the regional documentary program Atlantic Voice. Her reporting and documentary work has been recognized with many regional, national and international awards.

She is a fellow of the MIT/Knight Science Journalism program on medical evidence in Cambridge, Mass.

Pauline is also the bestselling author of Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood which won the prestigious 2018 Edna Staebler Prize for Creative Non-fiction and was named one of the best 100 books of 2017 by The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Janice Keefe

Janice Keefe is Professor and Chair of Family Studies and Gerontology at the Mount Saint Vincent University. She holds the Lena Isabel Jodrey Chair in Gerontology and is Director of the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging. Dr. Keefe is an Adjunct Professor with Dalhousie Medicine and Affiliate Scientist with Nova Scotia Health.

She is the Scientific Director of Seniors: Adding Life to Years (SALTY), pan-Canadian research examining quality of life for residents in long term care (LTC) and leads research examining the implementation of support visitations by family during COVID.

She chaired the NS Ministerial Expert Panel on LTC and co-authored the Royal Society of Canada’s report on the future of LTC.

Dr. Kenneth Rockwood

Dr. Kenneth Rockwood is a professor of medicine (geriatric medicine and neurology) at Dalhousie University and an active staff physician at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. He is also the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer Research at Dalhousie University.

A native of Newfoundland, he received his MD from Memorial University, and completed internal medicine training at the University of Alberta and Geriatric medicine at Dalhousie University. He is Senior Medical Director for Acute Care for the province of Nova Scotia.

A leading authority on frailty, Kenneth Dr. Rockwood has more than 500 peer-reviewed publications and nine books to his credit, including the eighth edition of Brocklehurst’s Textbook of Geriatric Medicine & Gerontology. He is Associate Director of the Canadian Collaboration on Neurodegeneration in Aging, and leads its Quality of Life theme, and Knowledge Translation platform.

Dr. David Sabapathy

Dr. Sabapathy is the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer for the province of Prince Edward Island.

He is a licensed Professional Engineer, having worked formerly in the private sector, and fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, specializing in Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

He holds an academic appointment with Dalhousie University in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology. Dr. Sabapathy grew up on Prince Edward Island and currently resides in Charlottetown.