'It was hard to see them leave': Residents relocated after contracts terminated between County of Essex and rest home
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Seventy-year-old Linda Hari is one of five remaining residents living at Essex Manor Rest Home.
“This is the only place I can say I love to be in,” she said.
Fifteen others, who she considers family, have been transferred to other homes, after the County of Essex terminated contracts with Essex Manor along with a second location, Seniors Alternative Care, in Leamington.
“The county spoke with the residents that were housed at these two locations that are subsidized by the county. Those that wanted to leave we assisted with a relocation. The county covered the cost of that. The county made sure all COVID-19 protocol were followed to ensure a smooth transition of residents to their new home," David Sundin, the lawyer representing the county, said.
When asked why the contracts were terminated, Sundin said it’s a private matter.
"I'm not going to get into the particulars about why the county terminated the contract with the third-party service provider,” he said. “That's between the county and the third-party service provider."
Back in May of 2020 a third contract was terminated at Leamington Lodge which resulted in a brief court battle.
"It was hard to see them leave,” Hari said.
The homes serve seniors, adults with mental illness and those battling drug addiction — most of whom rely on public subsidies to cover living expenses.
Owner and administrator of the homes, Kathy Edwards, says between all three properties she is losing $75,000 per month in subsidized rental payments and claims other homes are not trained to care for individuals facing such challenges.
"I'm it in Leamington. There is no mission, there's no food banks,” Edwards said. “They have the Bridge but that's only for 24 and under. What happens to the people who are older?"
"Here we are in the middle of a pandemic with no funding from the county, treating the ones who need the most help."
Sundin says the county does have support measures for those most vulnerable.
"The housing supports program we are talking about now are one of the key elements the county uses to help assist with homelessness, addictions, assisting those with mental health issues that require supports in place to help them get back on their feet,” he said.
Management also claims their homes are the only facilities in the area that are COVID-19 free.
They are furious the county decided to end the contracts in the middle of a global pandemic, which they say, forced residents to move into other homes that are in outbreak.
"It's hard to sleep at night when you are thinking ok which one over there just came down with COVID because they are frail, they are frail,” said Edwards.
Hari shares those same concerns.
"I'm scared for them,” she said. “If they didn't leave we wouldn't of had this problem."