Spring Safety Risks in Ontario

It’s spring in Ontario! After a long winter, it’s time to get out of the house and enjoy everything the province has to offer. As any personal injury lawyer will tell you, part of thoroughly enjoying a new season is being aware of the injury risks it presents. Spring weather may not be as dangerous as winter, but Ontarians should be careful, nonetheless.

“We’re in the middle of a transition from one season to the next,” said Kristan Hoffman, a consultant for Ontario Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), in a release last year. “We are still getting some winter hazards, starting to see some summer hazards, while managing some unique spring hazards. It’s a unique time of the year.”

Winter, spring, and summer hazards all at once? Sounds like early April. Here are a few things to keep in mind this month and for the rest of the season.


Spring is a transitional season, meaning the weather tends to oscillate between winter cold and summer warmth. The rapidly changing air temperature can cause unpredictable storm events – you might experience snow on Monday, thunderstorms on Wednesday, and clear sunny skies on Friday.

The takeaway: plan ahead. Whether you’re heading out for a weekend hiking trip or leaving for your half-hour commute to work, preparing for inclement weather reduces your risk of injury.

Water, water everywhere

Sticking with the weather theme, spring is ground zero for high-water and flooding events. There are two key contributors to this problem: melting snow and ice, and heavy rains. Drastic temperature increases cause rapid melts that swell rivers and streams. When these events are followed by thunderstorms, rivers can overflow causing significant flooding.

High-water periods can cause a variety of problems, from property damage to personal injuries. Check your weather listings and local news regularly during the spring; both should issue warnings of potential flood conditions.

Dangerous driving

Spring is a deceptively risky driving season. Sure, road conditions aren’t as bad as during the winter, but ice patches and slippery surfaces are common until late in the season, and flooding or heavy rain can be just as problematic as an Ontario blizzard.

Spring’s high-water events and freeze-thaw cycles are also tough on the roads themselves, causing potholes, cracks, and debris. Be ready for these conditions when you’re on the road.

Slip and fall

Slip and fall injuries are dangerous throughout the year, spring being no exception. As we already mentioned, ice patches and slippery surfaces aren’t exclusive to winter. Wet and muddy conditions are common in stores, public stairways and parking lots during the spring, and can cause serious injuries. Take your time and wear sensible footwear when the weather turns sour this April and May.

Contact a personal injury lawyer

If you or someone you know suffers an injury this spring, contact Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville offices to arrange a free no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CBC report shows poor standard of care in Ontario nursing homes

Nursing home negligence is a serious issue in Ontario, one which is unlikely to subside as the province’s population ages. Last month, CBC’s Marketplace sent an undercover journalist into a Markham, Ontario long-term care facility to record and report on the conditions there. The investigation unveiled a staff struggling to cope with its patients’ needs.

Markhaven Home for Seniors houses approximately 96 residents and is in many respects a typical Ontario long-term care facility. The CBC reports that it ranks “in the middle of the pack when it comes to the number of critical incident reports it generates for issues such as abuse, medication errors and disease outbreak.”

The facility relies heavily on volunteers, including high school students; Marketplace’s reporter gained access by volunteering there.

The reporter discovered a litany of troubling conditions: residents waiting in long lineups to use the bathroom; residents waiting to have “soiled incontinence products” removed and changed; incidents of resident-against-resident violence; emotional needs being ignored in the rush to attend to urgent physical needs.

Staff at the facility was under extraordinary strain. Single workers are on some nights left to care for up to 25 residents. Many staff are forced to skip meals and breaks as they struggle to attend to their patients.

This environment led to substandard care for many residents. The CBC spoke with Marie Harris whose 84-year-old mother, Giovanna Conforti, died at Markhaven in May 2017. On the night she died, Conforti was placed in her bed around midnight, out of reach of her call bell which was used to summon nurses when she was in distress. Conforti’s care schedule dictated that she should be checked on every four hours, but she was left alone until 7am the next day. She passed away during the night, apparently as she struggled to reach her call bell.

Harris believes the province’s staffing guidelines are partly to blame for her mother’s death

“There should be legislation that has to have more people to take care of our loved ones,” she told the CBC. “More nursing staff, more [personal support workers, or PSWs] on the floor.”

Patient advocates and personal injury lawyers specializing in nursing home negligence agree. In Alberta, provincial guidelines dictate that long-term care patients should receive 1.9 hours of one-on-one care each day. In Manitoba that number is 3.6 hours. Ontario once had an “hours of direct care” guideline but removed it in 1996. Today, the only staffing guideline for long-term care facilities is that each must have a registered nurse on duty at all hours. By this standard, staffing at the Markhaven Home for Seniors meets provincial standards.

If you or a member of your family has received sub-par care at a long-term care facility or has been the victim of nursing home negligence, contact Will Davidson LLP to learn how we can help.


Image credit: Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore

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