Grieving mom blames unsanitary residing situations at motel shelter in toddler’s dying

Grieving mom blames unsanitary residing situations at motel shelter in toddler’s dying

A grieving mom believes unsanitary residing situations on the Ottawa motel the place she and her 5 kids have been positioned to dwell final summer time contributed to the dying of her two-year-old son earlier this month.

Gloria Luhaka, who fled violence within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been residing along with her 5 kids — together with twin toddlers — on the Travelodge by Wyndham Ottawa West on Carling Avenue for the previous seven months.

The Metropolis of Ottawa positioned the household on the motel, which is amongst websites the town makes use of when shelters are full. Like many who’ve stayed at such motels, Luhaka doesn’t consider the lodging meet fundamental well being or hygiene requirements.

“I share my meals with the mice. I share the milk of my son with the mice,” Luhaka stated in a French interview on Tuesday.

“The place is the Canada I risked my life to return to?”

Radio-Canada toured the Travelodge and Luhaka’s two adjoining rooms on Tuesday.

Circumstances weren’t typical for a series lodge — together with an exterior window that would not shut fully, an area heater to compensate for a scarcity of in-room warmth, a mouse entice containing a useless mouse and bug, uncovered insulation within the ceiling, soiled carpets within the rooms and within the hallways, stains on the partitions of the lodge and a robust, foul odour within the air.

A motel room with lots of boxes and suitcases.
Luhaka and her household dwell in two adjoining rooms on the Travelodge on Carling Avenue. They’ve lived on the motel since August. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

Circumstances seemingly contributed to toddler’s sickness: CHEO

Luhaka’s two-year-old son Brantly was admitted to CHEO, japanese Ontario’s kids’s hospital in Ottawa, with respiratory issues on Feb. 26. An e-mail shared with CBC from a hospital social employee, and addressed to River Coun. Riley Brockington, stated the kid contracted 5 viruses and eight various kinds of micro organism.

The toddler died in hospital March 8 — 10 days after he was admitted — the household stated by a spokesperson.

“Though it’s unclear if Brantly’s residing situations prompted his sickness (post-mortem outcomes are forthcoming), there’s a excessive likelihood the environmental elements of the household’s residing house contributed to Brantly’s sickness,” learn the letter dated March 14 from the CHEO social employee.

“He was a beforehand wholesome baby with no identified medical points or situations.”

Wiping away tears, Luhaka informed reporters on Tuesday her son adopted her all over the place, as he could not stand to be away from her even for a couple of minutes. 

“Brantly, he was mommy’s son,” she stated. “The place are Brantly’s rights?”

WATCH | Luhaka talks in regards to the motel:

Her two-year-old son died in hospital. She blames the situations at her motel shelter

Gloria Luhaka’s son Brantly died after being admitted to hospital with respiratory issues. She believes unsanitary situations on the Travelodge the place she and her household lives contributed to his dying. (Picture: Francis Ferland/CBC)

Motel denies hyperlink to toddler’s dying

Robert Sherman, chief working officer with the motel’s proprietor Holloway Lodging Company, stated the corporate is working with the Metropolis of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Well being to make sure it’s compliant with “all relevant laws and with the expectations of authorities.”

“Now we have no purpose to consider the residing situations supplied by the lodge contributed to this tragic occasion,” wrote Sherman in an e-mail to CBC.

Sherman acknowledged the lodge has a “pest subject” and stated the corporate has employed a pest management firm. He added the corporate can be conscious of upkeep wants, that are being addressed.

A motel window that's partially open.
The window in Luhaka’s suite on the Travelodge on Carling Avenue is unable to shut all the best way. The adjoining room lacks working in-room warmth. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

Town, which positioned the household on the lodge, stated it’s going to examine situations on the Travelodge.

Paul Lavigne, interim director of housing, stated metropolis workers will communicate with affected households and work with companions to “guarantee any issues are recognized and addressed.”

Town can be offering grief and psychological well being assist together with monetary help to Luhaka’s household, Lavigne stated in a written response to CBC.

Many ‘Glorias’ in Ottawa, advocate says

In 2019, the town’s then-auditor common Ken Hughes urged Ottawa to cease utilizing motels and search for inexpensive preparations for short-term housing.

On the time, Ottawa paid a mean of $3,000 per 30 days to deal with a household in a motel, properly above market costs for related rental lodging. 

Brockington. whose ward consists of the Travelodge, informed CBC most motel rooms are merely not geared up to deal with a household for longer stays — most of the suites, together with Luhaka’s room, lack any sort of kitchen, as one instance.

“They might have a microwave and a really small fridge however they do not have the power to prepare dinner meals,” he stated.

Someone mixes food from a can into a bowl.
Luhaka prepares meals for her youngest son on an ottoman in her motel room. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

Hector Addison, government director of the African Canadian Affiliation of Ottawa, stated Luhaka’s household is way from distinctive in Ottawa.

“There are lots of Glorias all throughout the town,” he stated.

“Transition properties are alleged to be non permanent however oftentimes what we see within the metropolis is that some folks have been residing in motels for six, seven years.”

Addison is asking on the town to broaden its partnerships with numerous native teams to construct extra inexpensive housing. The plan, he stated, wouldn’t solely present higher lodging for households however would additionally lower your expenses in the long term.