Dr. Ito Peng takes up Canada’s treatment of the elderly in response to COVID-related deaths in long term care facilities on The Massey Dialogues

Ito Peng

Dr. Ito Peng recently participated in a Massey Dialogue event titled “COVID, the old and Canada: What’s wrong with us?” alongside former Dean of Nursing Dr. Dorothy Pringle and doctoral candidate Husayn Marani, moderated by Senior Fellow Michael Valpy. This discussion was prompted by the overwhelming proportion of COVID-related deaths among the elderly in long-term care facilities in Canada. Together, Dr. Ito Peng and the fellow dialogue participants examine why Canada has the highest COVID death-rate among the institutionalized elderly, and what this means about Canada’s attitudes towards its older population.

Dr. Peng reviewed the latest Canadian COVID statistics to highlight how older people (age 70+) are disproportionately affected by COVID through both hospitalization and death rates, even though the majority of cases are currently concentrated among younger age groups (age 20-59). Although the overall Canadian COVID death rate is lower than many other OECD countries, the proportion of elderly COVID-related deaths occurring in long-term care residences stands out at 85%. Dr. Peng associated this outlying statistic with the higher proportion of Canadian seniors living in long-term care residences compared to other OECD countries, as well as the privatized long-term care system in Canada. She expanded on the difficulties of regulating a non-nationalized long-term care system, and pointed to other countries where support for the aging population begins far earlier than the admission into a long-term care home.

Dr. Ito Peng is the Canada Research Chair in Global Social Policy and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the Department of Sociology, and the School of Public Policy and Governance. She is also the Director of the Centre for Global Social Policy, University of Toronto. Her research specializes in family, gender, and demographic issues in migration and comparative social policy.

The complete video of this Massey Dialogues event can be found here.