Facing food shortages, staff at Huronia Guest Home in Stayner went public last week with their concerns about the living and working conditions.
In desperation, staff began posting to social media, saying 13 loaves of bread and four packages of bologna was all they had to feed the unlicensed, privately-owned assisted living facility’s 27 residents for the week.
Members of the community began sharing the Facebook posts in an effort to raise awareness, with at least one person referring to it as “Stayner’s dirty little secret.”
The home’s cook, Candice Moncreiff, posted to Facebook, “I work at Huronia Guest Home. I have now, on and off for the last four years. I keep coming back because of the residents, they hold a special place in all of our hearts. But now the owners do not want to buy food nor do they want to pay us. The staff we have not been paid in over a month. And the only food they have bought is bread and bologna. They, and we, deserve better.”
Staff said they have not been paid since mid-December.
Moncreiff told The Echo she was expecting backlash but the working conditions have deteriorated further since the staff went public with their concerns and she doesn’t know what to do. She said she is worried about being able to pay her own rent, and doesn’t want to walk away from her job out of concerns for the residents, and without receiving compensation.
Mayor Doug Measures addressed the concerns during Monday’s council meeting, saying the municipality has limited authority.
“I can confirm our fire services have been very much engaged all through 2021 and 2022 with the facility,” he said, adding there have been inspections, non- compliance orders, and repairs ordered.
Measures said the facility passed its 2022 fire code inspections but property standards violations are still outstanding.
He said the province of Ontario is aware and the County of Simcoe is also engaged.
Measures said the situation illustrates “a real hole in the legislation.”
“There are some really obvious areas of administrative and legislative responsibility that’s missing between provincial legislation and municipal legislation and frankly, human dignity issues, so it’s a really frustrating thing,” he said.
Measures commends the community response to support the residents, including the Stayner Lions Club for delivering food and the Busby Centre for providing staff.
“There has been significant media coverage and I know that our staff is working diligently to deal with this crisis.”
The social media campaign resulted in donations from the community, and exposed a bed bug infestation that goes back as far as 2017, or longer.
Huronia Guest Home is for sale and has since announced it will close its doors, leaving residents with few options for housing, and unable to take their belongings with them due to the infestation.
Representing the facility’s owner, lawyer Nadine Schweishelm said, ”I confirm that the facility will be shut down and that ownership is working with a number of different agencies to help with relocation.”