The federal government has approved Ontario’s request for military assistance at long-term care homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s public safety minister has announced.
“Long-term care is a unique vulnerability in this pandemic,” Bill Blair said in a tweet.
“We will continue working together as team Canada to defeat #COVID19.”
On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said his government would formally request assistance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces to help with coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care homes.
Ford said they would first be deployed to five “priority homes.”
In a press conference Thursday, Long Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said the decision to call in the military came “despite our best efforts.”
“Allowing the acute care sector with hospital staff to come in, along with home care staff, along with the portals that we had created, along with the federal portals and the nursing volunteers, it still was not enough,” Fullerton said.
As of Thursday, there have been a total of 516 COVID-19-related deaths in long-term care homes in the province, with 2,189 confirmed cases among residents.
Ford previously opened the door to systemic changes in Ontario’s long-term care system once a review is conducted into how the system handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his daily press conference Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government would approve requests for military assistance for provinces, but said, “We shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors.”
Trudeau said there will be an examination of how the country got to this point.
Quebec has also asked for military help in caring for those in long-term care homes.