Coronavirus: Ontario calling in Canadian Forces to assist at long-term care homes

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario calls on Canadian Forces to aid province’s COVID-19 response
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday that his government would formally ask the federal government for help handling coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care homes across the province, including help from the Canadian Forces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will be asking the federal government for assistance in handling coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care homes in the province, including help from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ford said his government will be making a formal request on Wednesday, which will also include a call for additional resources from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“We will begin by directing that the additional personnel be deployed to five priority homes in the province,” Ford said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Ontario to test all long term care residents, staff for COVID-19

“Their support will provide staffing relief, so staff can focus on the care of the residents. They will assist with operations, co-ordination, or medical care, logistics and general assistance to support the day-to-day operations.”

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Officials said they have not yet determined which five homes will be first to receive additional personnel.

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Ford said long-term care staff have been working tirelessly during the pandemic.

“They need a rest and they need support,” he said.

When asked why he has decided to ask for military assistance now, Ford said decisions on handling outbreaks in long-term care homes have been based on medical advice and officials have consistently been working to allocate additional resources to the homes.

“This has been changing every single day,” Ford said.

As of Wednesday, the province reported 127 outbreaks at long-term care homes.

READ MORE: Doug Ford opens door to systemic changes to Ontario’s long-term care system

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In the care facilities, 448 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported. The provincial coronavirus-related death toll stands at 659.

Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said 20 homes that previously experienced an outbreak have since been cleared.

The province’s call for federal help comes on the same day Ontario announced there would be COVID-19 testing of all residents and workers in long-term care homes. That announcement came after health officials previously resisted calls for such widespread testing of asymptomatic people.

— With files from The Canadian Press