Right in the centre - Some more questions


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

At the outset, I think that all levels, be it government, staff, medical professionals and volunteers, have done a lot of great work to try and get our elderly people through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Across Canada and in Manitoba, there have been care home deaths. Many have been in homes owned by Revera. This column is not making any judgements on anyone, but simply is put out there as information that might bring about some helpful change.

Revera care homes is wholly owned by The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments). According to online searches, PSP is a Canadian Crown corporation established by an act of Parliament in September 1999. PSP Investments is one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, with $168 billion of net assets under management as of March 31, 2019. It invests funds for the pension plans of the Public Service, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Reserve Force.

More than 800 professionals manage a diversified global portfolio composed of investments in public financial markets, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, natural resources and private debt. PSP Investments’ head office is located in Ottawa, ON and its chief business office is located in Montreal, QC.

Therefore, Revera, which has had so many unfortunate deaths due to COVID-19, is actually owned by the Government of Canada. The PSP reportedly takes 7 to 12 per cent in returns on their investments from Revera. I ask the question cautiously, but could that 7 to 12 per cent be better spent in upgrading care and infrastructure at the care home? It’s a very delicate question, but it does need to be asked. Any investor is entitled to a return on investment, but it seems a bit lacking either taste or wisdom for a Canadian Crown Corporation to be profiting from care homes at any time. It seems particularly bad that in the middle of a pandemic, the PSP Crown Corp (and the government of Canada) is profiting from care homes. One would think that every dollar should go back into various improvements. The long term question is, should care homes be run by pension fund investment companies? Their main aim is quality care, I am sure, but their high priority second aim is cost cutting and the profits.

But the mystery goes deeper. It’s strange that the federal government is pressing for more investments in care homes and at the same time squeezing profits out of the care homes. The question goes even deeper. Should a federal government be using tax dollars to extend funding to care homes, knowing full well that it may improve the Revera care homes’ bottom line, which in turn will also inflate profits for their own Crown Corporation?

It always pays to follow the money.

Here’s another question. Last August, HyLife announced it was using the SteriwaveTM Nasal Photodisinfection for employees. The information on  that treatment comes highly recommended as a method of controlling infections. I don’t know the cost, but up to the date of this writing, HyLife hasn’t had a C-19 case, as far as I know. You can see a video on this Canadian tested process here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ntmck1p9utkl5jx/AABRMdOu6PTlt25zSvCsJgD8a?

If this process is effective, perhaps it should be used for every care home resident in Manitoba.

Seeing as the Revera-owned Maples care home residents were all tested and about 70 per cent tested positive, the nasal process listed above might have been a very good investment. And isn’t it strange that 70 per cent tested positive at Maples and were all deemed to not have symptoms? Meanwhile, testing of symptomatic people only yields about 10 per cent positives. I think the public needs to know that answer. On the surface, it looks like it would make a lot more sense to test care home residents than it would to test people in the general population.

Perhaps every care home resident should be given daily doses of Vitamin D, which has been proven to be needed to fight any infection, including C-19.

Lots of questions– and the media and the politicians need to be addressing these questions and likely many others. I think we have all had enough of endless numbers, we need to bear down on what works and look seriously into what might work

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.