The Ontario government extends current emergency orders until June 9, takes over 5 more long-term care homes in GTA

In his address to the province this afternoon, May 27, Premier Doug Ford announced that the provincial government will immediately take over the management of the five long-term care homes around the Greater Toronto Area, including four that were subject in the report by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision comes after the CAF’s reports detailed the conditions inside these facilities that Ford has called “gut-wrenching” after reading them.

In that report, allegations ranging from bug infestations, force-feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, to residents crying for help for hours, or lack of cleanliness, and not meeting the needs of the patients were made.

Ford’s announcement regarding the management change was made alongside Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton and the Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

 “We’ve already taken over two homes because we had concerns and now we are moving to take over these five homes because, in the face of these problems, we will use every tool at our disposal,” Ford said.

“We need boots on the ground. I want eyes and ears in the homes that we’re most worried about keeping a close watch”.

Management change for long-term care homes has been occurring across the province during the COVID-19 pandemic, as hospitals have been tasked to oversee homes struggling with the outbreaks.

On May 25, the government already put two other homes under hospital care. Downsview Long-Term Care Home located in North York is now being managed by the Humber River Hospital, and River Glen Haven Nursing Home located in Sutton suburban community is managed by Southlake Regional Health Centre for 90 days.

The five new homes include Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Orchard Villa in Pickering, and Camilla Care in Mississauga. 

Premier Ford has also said Ontario has launched a “full investigation” into the allegations and will share the results with police who will look into any possible criminal charges.

He added that the government will be conducting “extremely rigorous” inspections of those homes, as well as 13 others facing challenges managing Covid-19, and will be doing random spot checks across the province.  

Ford suggested that creating a fully public system for these long-term care homes would not be feasible without financial help from the federal government.

He said Ontario is prepared to pull operating licences and shut down facilities if necessary, or take over management at more homes.

The military forces were deployed in to help in April in five homes and they will remain there until June 12, Ford said.

When addressing these long-term care home issues, Minister of long-term care home Fullerton said that the spread of COVID-19 and the lack of staff in these facilities are the sources of the problems at hand.

Fullerton went on to say that nearly 3,000 inspections were made in the 626 homes located in the province since June 2018.

According to the Ministry of Long-term Care, there have been 1,587 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario as of Wednesday, May 27. There are currently 135 outbreaks.

Lockdown extension

In addition to the management takeover announcements, Ford has confirmed that the provincial lockdown will continue for an additional 10 days.

The emergency orders will now be in effect until June 9, unless another lockdown extension is made.

“We are extending these emergency orders to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families as we begin to gradually and safely reopen our province,” Ford said.

“To build on the progress we have made to contain COVID-19, people should continue to follow these simple public health guidelines, practice physical distancing, wear a mask when it is a challenge to physical distance, and wash their hands regularly”.

Ontario reported 292 additional cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, May 27, the second straight day with a growth rate in total cases of 1.1 per cent.

These numbers mark the first instance of consecutive days with less than 300 new cases each since late March.

Total confirmed cases in Ontario is now at 26,483 including 20,372 recoveries, 2,155 deaths. There are now 3,956 active cases.

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