PM offers 'targeted help' to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks in Ont. long-term care homes
Published Tuesday, January 5, 2021 2:19PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has reached out to the province to offer "targeted help" to bring COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario long-term care homes under control.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister said military deployments, enhanced testing, and isolation measures can be "the difference between local outbreaks becoming a crisis or becoming under control."
"We've already lost too many elders in long-term care. The tragedies of the spring must not be repeated. As we have been since March, our government is here to support provinces in getting the situation under control in their jurisdictions," Trudeau said.
"Already we've been in touch with the Government of Ontario and stand ready to provide additional targeted help."
He said long-term care homes will be a topic of discussion with all premiers at the first ministers' meeting later this week.
"Today, just like when we first deployed the armed forces and the Red Cross during the first wave, our top priority is keeping people safe. I'll be bringing up long-term care homes with all premiers on Thursday."
COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario long-term care homes have continued to climb as community transmission surges in the province. Ontario reported another 3,128 new COVID-19 infections today, bringing the seven-day average of new cases above 3,000 for the first time.
According to data in the province's epidemiological summary released Tuesday, there are currently 235 long-term care homes in Ontario with an active COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 2,865 long-term care residents in Ontario who have died after contracting the virus with nearly 500 of those deaths reported in the last month alone. Provincial data indicates that 22 long-term care residents infected with COVID-19 have died in Ontario over the past 24 hours.
Some of the hardest hit homes continue to be in the Greater Toronto Area, including Tendercare Living Centre in Scarborough and St. George Community Care in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood.
At Tendercare, at least 64 residents infected with COVID-19 have died since an outbreak was declared at the long-term care facility last month. North York General Hospital has taken over operations of Tendercare to help curb the mounting number of cases and fatalities.
There are currently 81 active cases of COVID-19 at St. George Care Community and there have been six resident deaths so far. On Monday, the province announced that University Health Network would be stepping in at the Toronto long-term care home as well.
Last week, the Ontario Health Coalition called for military intervention in some of the province's hardest hit homes.
"The issue is that we're in such an emergency,” Natalie Mehra, the coalition’s executive director, told the Canadian Press.
“There are so many homes with outbreaks that are growing extremely quickly, the death counts are mounting, and the hospitals are overstretched now.”
Last April, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) were deployed to seven Ontario long-term care homes in crisis to help operate the facilities, which were dealing with widespread staffing shortages.
A military report released last May depicted shocking conditions at some of the long-term care homes Canadian soldiers were sent to, revealing poor infection control procedures and, in some cases, patient neglect.
-With files from The Canadian Press