Canadian Armed Forces support helping to stabilize five long-term care homes
TORONTO ― The Canadian Armed Forces working in Ontario’s long-term care homes have produced what Premier Ford called a “gut-wrenching report”. “It is heart-wrenching, said the Premier. “When COVID got into these homes, workers were scared to go to work”.
It is appalling, and disgusting, said Ford. “These are just standard operating procedures, It is so disturbing when I read this report it was the most heart-wrenching report I have ever read”.
“The question is how are we going to fix the problem,” asked Ford. The Premier said that help from the federal government is needed as this is a national problem”.
“We are going to get to the bottom of this!” said the Premier.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Ontario government has put the safety and security of our seniors as a top priority. The onset of COVID-19 has only exacerbated the already difficult situation in long-term care in the province.
Today, the Ontario government outlined key findings from the Canadian Armed Forces report on the five long-term care homes at which the military has been assisting. The report details serious concerns around infection prevention, safety, staffing and level of care. The report also indicates that these five homes are beginning to stabilize with the support of the armed forces.
“The health and safety of the residents and staff in our long-term care homes is our number one priority. It is clear the long-term care system in Ontario must be fixed,” said Premier Ford. “The report from the Canadian Armed Forces on these five long-term care homes is extremely troubling. Our government will take immediate action to investigate the concerns raised by the Canadian Armed Forces to ensure the safety of our residents in these five long-term care homes and in homes across the province.”
On April 22, the Ontario government formally requested assistance from the federal government in the form of the Canadian Armed Forces to support five long-term care homes that were in crisis. These homes were amongst the hardest hit in Ontario with COVID-19 outbreaks and had significant challenges that could not be rectified through various efforts. Those challenges included: staffing, infection prevention and control, resident safety, food preparation and janitorial services.
On May 10, the Canadian Armed Forces reported 15 out of 20 categories being in high-risk. As of May 25, based on the Canadian Armed Forces assessment, 13 of these 15 categories were no longer considered high-risk.
The Ontario government is once again calling on the federal government and the Canadian Armed Forces to extend their current mission for at least an additional 30 days.
“Thank you to the brave women and men in our Canadian Armed Forces who have helped immensely to stabilize our hardest-hit long-term care homes,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “We are continuing to take action to ensure our most vulnerable people living in our long-term care homes receive safe and quality care.”
The government has already begun an active investigation based on the Canadian Armed Forces report. To date, one death has been referred to the Office of the Chief Coroner for investigation. In addition to continued regular inspections, the Ministry of Long-Term Care Inspections Branch will immediately investigate specific critical incidents referred to in the report.
In addition, the government recently announced it will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September. The government also continues to work with hospital partners to assist long-term care homes across the province with clinical, infection prevention and control, and other supports.