On April 22, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the Ontario government will be formally requesting federal assistance to support COVID-19 response efforts in Ontario’s long-term care (LTC) sector. Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton.
Following the announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding additional COVID-19 response measures.
Additional Measures to Protect Long-Term Care Residents and Staff
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that the Ontario government will make a formal request for assistance from the federal government in order to enhance the province’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts in the LTC sector.
Federal reinforcements will include resources from the Public Health Agency of Canada as well as Canadian Armed Forces personnel. The Ontario government begin directing federal supports to five priority LTC homes where they will provide staffing relief so that current staff can continue to focus on resident care. The federal reinforcements will primarily assist with operations, coordination, medical care and logistics.
In addition to this afternoon’s announcement about formally requesting federal support, Premier Ford and Dr. Fullerton provided an update on the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes. Since the Action Plan was announced, the government has provided support to LTC homes through the following measures:
- Assisting 20 LTC homes, which were previously experiencing outbreaks, to become outbreak free;
- Increasing testing on both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff and residents;
- Additional testing of asymptomatic residents and staff to better understand the spread of the virus;
- Setting up a 24/7 LTC COVID-19 Response Team, which has helped more than 30 homes by putting in place infection control protocols, resolving staffing issues, and fulfilling personal protective equipment (PPE) needs;
- Launching Infection Prevention and Control interventions, 31 of which are ongoing and six of which have been completed;
- Continuing to match qualified people and volunteers who can help with duties in homes;
- Responding to requests for PPE within 24 hours;
- Working with hospitals across the province to deploy additional staffing and infection prevention controls in LTC homes.
Additional COVID-19 Response Measures
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding additional COVID-19 response measures.
In response to questions about testing for people with disabilities who experience difficulties getting to COVID-19 assessment centres, Minister Elliott said that the government is absolutely willing to allow for testing at home in these cases.
When asked about his earlier comments on the reopening of Ontario’s economy, Premier Ford reiterated that the timeline for lifting restrictions is conditional on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Premier Ford emphasized that there will not be a single date when everything reopens, but rather that the economy will “trickle” open.
Premier Ford added that Minister of Education Stephen Lecce will be releasing a statement soon to provide students, teachers and parents clarity on the remainder of the school year.