Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday the province will immediately take over management of five long-term care homes, including four that were the subject of a scathing military report into horrific conditions in the residences.
The Canadian Armed Forces released two reports this week about conditions at five long-term care homes in Ontario and 25 long-term care homes in Quebec where they were deployed to help during the pandemic.
In the Ontario homes, the military report detailed allegations of insect infestations, aggressive resident feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections and residents crying for help for hours. The report also touched on staffing and training issues, supply shortages and poor communication.
Ford called the report “horrific,” and said it was “the most heart-wrenching report” he’s ever read in his life.
On Wednesday, he told reporters that six teams of two inspectors each will be deployed to five long-term care homes to undertake “expanded and rigorous inspection and monitoring” for the next two weeks.
WATCH | Ford lays out plan to take over management of 5 long-term care homes:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the report into Ontario’s homes “deeply disturbing,” and said more needs to be done to support people living in long-term care, a message he reiterated on Wednesday after Quebec released a report from the military about what members had observed in that province.
In those homes, the Armed Forces members observed issues with the division between “hot” and “cold” zones — where patients were infected with COVID-19 or not — the proper use of protective equipment and staffing shortages.
The report said military personnel helped train staff to improve the situation.
At his briefing Wednesday, Quebec Premier François Legault said he was not surprised by the findings, and the province will work to recruit 10,000 new workers for long-term care homes by fall.
WATCH | Legault says many problems rooted in staffing shortages in long-term care homes:
In the meantime, Legault said he would like the contingent of soldiers deployed in Quebec homes to stay and help until Sept. 15.
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Ontario state of emergency
As it deals with the fallout of the military report, Ontario has announced it is extending its emergency order until June 9. The province continues to deal with an uptick in COVID-19 cases and major issues in some long-term care homes, which house elderly and vulnerable residents who are at increased risk of severe illness and death from the illness.
A news release on Wednesday said under the extended emergency order, measures such as the restriction on gatherings of more than five people will stay in place, as will a range of other measures, including the mandated closure of bars and restaurants.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Tuesday that epidemic growth “continues to slow” nationally, but outbreaks are still an issue, especially in long-term care, shelters and workplaces.
Tam said on Twitter that “most worrying” is community spread in and around hot spots, such as Toronto and Montreal.
2/3 Outbreaks represent closed settings where <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/publichealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#publichealth</a> measures can be targeted to <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StoptheSpread?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StoptheSpread</a>, however community transmission presents additional challenges for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TestandTrace?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TestandTrace</a> to control spread at the population level.
She urged people to stick with public health measures, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette and staying home if sick.
As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 87,482 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, with 46,087 considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,829. Public health officials have cautioned that recorded figures don’t capture information on people who have not been tested and cases that are still under investigation.
The novel coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe illness or death. There are no proven treatments or vaccines for the virus, which causes an illness called COVID-19.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia’s provincial health officer reported no new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. Dr. Bonnie Henry said it was the first time in “quite a few weeks” that the province had not added to its death toll, which stands at 161. Henry also announced that an outbreak at the Richmond Hospital was over, and that there were no new community or health-care outbreaks to report. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
The mayor of Alberta’s most populous city is urging residents to keep their distance at popular parks. “Don’t be like Toronto,” said Naheed Nenshi as he asked people in Calgary to avoid four parks and referenced the overcrowding of a popular Toronto park last weekend. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, where the province has paused a trial looking into hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Saskatchewan reported one new coronavirus death on Tuesday, bringing the number of COVID-19-linked deaths in the province to eight. Health officials said another death is under investigation. The province reported no new cases, leaving it with 634, with 549 of those considered resolved. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
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Manitoba will allow restaurants, gyms and pools to reopen on June 1, the province said Wednesday. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba, where the government is considering changes to the multimillion-dollar aid package for businesses impacted by the pandemic and subsequent public health restrictions.
Ontario’s COVID-19 cases are concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area, with more than three-quarters of the active cases listed by the province found in Toronto, as well as Peel, York, Durham and Halton regions, CBC’s MIke Crawley reports. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where questions continue about long-term care after a detailed report from Canadian Armed Forces outlined major issues with five facilities. Ontario reported 292 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
WATCH | Military report puts spotlight on crisis in Ontario’s long-term care homes:
Quebec is expanding its COVID-19 testing by bringing more mobile testing to the Mauricie region. In Trois-Rivières and Shawinigan, municipal vehicles have been transformed so they can offer curbside testing. “When the unit comes to a neighbourhood, the team will go ringing doorbells, talk with people about their health, and if they have symptoms, we’ll invite them to be tested,” a local health official said. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, which reported 541 new coronavirus cases and 89 new deaths on Wednesday.
New Brunswick reported another new case of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region Wednesday, the third case within a week. The person is a medical professional who travelled to Quebec and did not self-isolate upon their return, said Premier Blaine Higgs. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia reported one new case on Wednesday. The province says many businesses that are ready can reopen June 5, including restaurants, bars, hair salons and gyms. “We believe we found a balance between public safety and restarting our economy,” Premier Stephen McNeil said. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia, including the story of one woman trying to help staff at the hard-hit Northwood long-term care home in Halifax.
Prince Edward Island’s government is taking criticism from the Opposition over its decision to allow seasonal residents to travel to the island this summer amid the ongoing pandemic. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
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Newfoundland and Labrador has reported no new COVID-19 cases for 20 days now. But despite the positive news, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, is urging residents to continue to uphold safety measures. “Experts around the world are predicting a second wave of COVID-19,” she said Wednesday, “and we must remain vigilant in following the public health measures in place so that when it happens we will be in the best possible position to respond.” Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
The premier of the Northwest Territories said she hopes to see some lasting change come out of the pandemic. “These programs — getting people in housing, giving people almost a guaranteed wage, more access to child care — are all things that all of us in this house should be proud of, and it would be a sin, Mr. Speaker, to take it back,” Caroline Cochrane said Tuesday in the legislature. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
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