Coronavirus: Premier Doug Ford says Ontario to take over 5 more long-term care homes in GTA

WATCH ABOVE: Doug Ford addresses crisis at Ontario long-term care homes

Premier Doug Ford said the Ontario government will take over five more long-term care homes around the Greater Toronto Area amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The government already put two other homes under hospital care on Monday. Downsview Long Term Care in Toronto is now managed by Humber River Hospital, and River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton is managed by Southlake Regional Health Centre.

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The announcement comes after a startling report from the Canadian military was released Tuesday outlining multiple issues in homes across the province.

The report said military members observed cockroach infestations, aggressive feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, and residents crying for help for hours.

The five new homes include Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Altamont Care Community, Orchard Villa, as well as Camilla Care Community.

The latter home was not in the military report, but has had 61 residents die of the virus since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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

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“We’re going to do rigorous, rigorous inspections and we’re going to find out very quickly who are good operators and who are bad actors,” he said.

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Four of the five homes are private, but Ford suggested creating a fully public system wouldn’t be feasible without financial help from Ottawa.

Ford also said 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.

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

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

In light of the recent allegations, Ford defended Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton when asked at his daily briefing on Wednesday whether he will fire or ask for her resignation.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus around the world: May 27, 2020'
Coronavirus around the world: May 27, 2020

The premier also said he is expediting an independent commission into long-term care and is hopeful it will be established in July.

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The Ontario Long-Term Care Association said it supports provincial efforts to investigate any abuse or neglect, but also called for the government to help in other ways.

“Inspections are important measures, however they do not provide the immediate resources and hands-on support homes urgently need on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, nor do they address long-standing systemic and structural issues exacerbated by the pandemic that threaten its sustainability,” CEO Donna Duncan said in a statement.

The association wants to see a greater supply of personal protective equipment, more rapid testing, infection control help for older homes, more supports from hospitals and expedited capital funding

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. There are currently 135 outbreaks.

With files from The Canadian Press

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