On March 30 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced that the Ontario government is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized delivery services to seniors.
Today’s announcement doubles the $5 million originally set aside for this purpose in last week’s provincial fiscal update.
Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott; Minister of Long- Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton; and Minister of Finance Rod Phillips.
Following the announcement Minister Fullerton responded to questions about measures being taken to protect seniors in long-term care homes and Premier Ford warned of a possible escalation of social distancing measures.
Earlier today Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, issued a statement in response to COVID-19 urging Ontarians to escalate their social distancing efforts.
Subsidized Delivery Services for Seniors During the COVID-19 Outbreak – Premier Doug Ford
Today Premier Ford announced that the Ontario government is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors living at home. This investment doubles the government’s initial $5-million commitment in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
The government is also working with grocers and pharmacists to prioritize seniors’ delivery orders and establish senior-only shopping hours.
Today’s announcement follows a statement by Dr. Williams which strongly urges those over the age of 70 or those with compromised immune systems, or underlying medical conditions, stay at home.
Premier Ford encouraged Ontarians to support seniors during this period of isolation by using technology to stay in touch or by delivering prescriptions or groceries. The government is working with organizations across the province to mobilize volunteer supports, expand the use of technologies to address social isolation and support daily living assistance.
Measures to Protect Seniors in Long-Term Care Homes – Minister Merrilee Fullerton
The $10 million announced today by Premier Ford is in addition to the $243 million for long-term care homes in Ontario’s Action Plan. This funding will support 24/7 screening, additional staffing, enhanced cleaning and sanitation and additional surge capacity.
The government is also implementing a new emergency order which provides further flexibility and allows homes to redirect their staffing and financial resources to essential tasks. Additionally, the government is redeploying inspectors to support long-term care homes through staff supply, care coordination and the prevention and containment of infections.
Following today’s announcement Minister Fullerton was asked numerous questions about COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes following reports of nine deaths at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon. Minister Fullerton assured reporters that the Ministry of Long-Term Care is doing everything possible to address outbreaks at long-term care homes including increased screening, improved isolation of incoming admissions and prioritizing test delivery. Minister Fullerton also confirmed that the Ministry is looking at ways to cohort long-term care residents and staff to further separate those that have tested positive for COVID-19.
When asked about directives for treating long-term care residents for COVID-19, Minister Fullerton indicated that residents will be cared for in the home for as long as possible before moving to the hospital. She stressed that there will be no discrimination of treatment based on age.
Minister Fullerton also indicated that discussions with Dr. Williams are ongoing to improve the reporting of COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes.
Warning of Increased Social Distancing Measures – Premier Doug Ford
In addition to today’s announcement, Premier Ford expressed concern over seeing busy paths and parks over the weekend in Toronto saying this is unacceptable. He reiterated that all options remain on the table to slow the spread of COVID-19 and that his government is prepared to take further action over the coming days, if necessary.
Premier Ford confirmed that the government will be extending Ontario’s State of Emergency, originally issued on March 17 and set to end tomorrow, March 31.
March 30 Statement from Chief Medical Officer of Health – Dr. David Williams
Prior to today’s announcement, Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued a statement in response to COVID-19, calling on Ontarians to escalate their social distancing efforts.
In his statement, Dr. Williams recommended that Ontarians only leave their homes for essential reasons, including accessing health care, shopping for groceries, picking up medication, walking pets, and supporting vulnerable community members. He also encouraged Ontarians to limit the number of these essential trips as much as possible.
In today’s statement, Dr. Williams also strongly recommended that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate.