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:
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province will take over management of five long-term care homes and begin inspections in all residences. 2:08
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:
François Legault says the problems come from having a lack of staff, and he is launching a major drive to train thousands of new orderlies. 2:58
In the meantime, Legault said he would like the contingent of soldiers deployed in Quebec homes to stay and help until Sept. 15.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says another four months of deployment will not be possible. “I understand the needs and concerns that Quebec may have,” he told host Vassy Kapelos on CBC’s Power & Politics, but he said the current situation would not be sustainable.
“We will not be able to do this for any prolonged period.”
Sajjan said the military is talking with provincial officials but he stressed that while the Forces can buy time for the homes that need staff, it’s important to get the appropriately trained personnel into the facilities.
The military has agreed to stay in Ontario long-term care homes until June 12.
WATCH | Seniors’ advocate outlines 3 key measures to improve residential seniors’ care:
Laura Tamblyn Watts, president and CEO of CanAge, a national seniors’ advocacy organization, also urges care be moved to a more home-like setting and away from the current medical model. 1:25 States 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 disease.
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.
British Columbia also moved Wednesday to extend its state of emergency for another two weeks, making it the longest period of time it has been under such orders.
The province was under emergency orders for 10 weeks during the 2017 wildfire season. With today’s extension, it will bring the province to 12 weeks, with “no likely end in sight,” according to Premier John Horgan.
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 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 87,510 confirmed and presumptive cases of coronavirus, with 46,155 considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,857. 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
B.C.’s elected officials will return to the provincial legislature June 22. Members have been working from home since mid-March, but Premier Horgan said Wednesday that most will return to Victoria while maintaining public health measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta health officials are investigating a possible case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC) in the province. Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday the illness has been seen in Quebec, the U.K. and the U.S., and that while it can sound scary, it appears to be rare and treatable. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan reported two new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, bringing the number of COVID-19-linked deaths in the province to 10. Both deaths were in patients in the far north of the province. There were also three new cases. Saskatchewan moved to Phase 2 of its reopening May 19, allowing businesses like clothing stores, hair salons and greenhouses to open with restrictions. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
WATCH | COVID-19: What are the risks of eating at a restaurant?
An infectious disease specialist answers questions about the risks of eating at a restaurant as they reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2:57
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.
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.
WATCH | Hotels implement enhanced cleaning, safety measures to reopen during pandemic:
For hotels preparing to reopen during the pandemic, they are implementing enhanced cleaning procedures and with new measures in place to keep guests safe. 1:59
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.
Yukon University is preparing for a fall semester with many online classes, and perhaps a late start for some classes, too. The university’s two degree programs in Indigenous governance and business administration will be delivered entirely online, as will early learning and child care, liberal arts and social work. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s what’s happening around the world Restaurant owners, wearing protective face masks, use measuring tape to measure the distance between tables to maintain physical distance inside a restaurant in Nice, France, on Wednesday, before the announcement by the French government of the further easing of lockdown measures following the outbreak of COVID-19. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)
WATCH | Respirologist responds to questions about wearing a mask in the heat and the effect of vitamin D on COVID-19:
Even people with common chronic diseases such as asthma should be able to tolerate wearing a mask in the hot summer months, says Dr. Samir Gupta. 6:00