A group of health experts advising Ontario on COVID-19 says the province should improve working conditions and minimize temporary staffing in long-term care homes to protect residents from the virus.

In a new report, the group says infections and deaths among long-term care residents are speeding up, mirroring the spread in the community at large.

The report says there's a strong association between community spread and long-term care outbreaks, suggesting staff are bringing the virus into the facilities before showing symptoms.

The report says temporary staffing is also a risk factor, and suggests that the province make temporary measures such as pay increases and training programs permanent in an effort to retain workers.

The document also recommends extending a prohibition on three- and four-bed rooms beyond the end of this month.

A spokeswoman for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.