The Ontario government said on Friday it could extend its takeover of some long-term care homes where COVID-19 has killed dozens of residents, as the official opposition urged the province not to not cede control of facilities to for-profit companies.
The government statement comes as 90-day temporary management contracts and orders giving local hospitals control of nearly a dozen facilities struggling to contain deadly COVID-19 outbreaks expire within weeks to come up.
A spokeswoman for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said as part of the agreements, companies will be allowed to take back control of homes once the government is convinced that the risk of an outbreak for residents. and the staff were “toned down”.
But if that hasn’t happened, the government can continue the orders, said Gillian Sloggett.
“Binding management orders and voluntary management contracts can be extended beyond 90 days, if necessary,” she said, adding that an update on the status of the houses is expected in the next few years. weeks. “We continue to closely monitor the homes.”
The statement comes as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the government to extend management contracts that are about to expire, adding that the province should maintain oversight of these facilities until all investigations are completed.
Horwath stressed that before a potential second wave of the virus this fall, now is not the time to hand control of homes back to businesses.
“None of the for-profit providers should take back control of these homes or take care of the elderly who live there,” she said. “(Prime Minister) Doug Ford must be prepared to permanently take over homes where the evidence shows gross negligence.”
The province has appointed temporary leadership in 11 homes since the start of the pandemic as facilities struggled to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
The homes under voluntary management are Woodbridge Vista Care Community in Woodbridge, Ontario, Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ontario, and Camilla Care Community in Mississauga, Ontario.
Five houses in Toronto – Villa Colombo, Extendicare Guildwood, Altamont Care Community, Hawthorne Place Care Center and Eatonville Care Center – were also subject to voluntary contracts.
The province has issued mandatory management orders for River Glen Haven in Sutton, Ontario, Downsview Long Term Care in Toronto, and Forest Heights Long Term Care in Kitchener, Ontario.
In April, Ford said the province was taking control of a number of long-term care homes.
In May, an army report Ford called “heartbreaking” was released on the conditions at some facilities. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces said they observed cockroach infestations, aggressive feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections and residents crying for help for hours.
“We are fully prepared to take over more homes if necessary. We are fully prepared to withdraw the licenses and shut down the facilities if necessary, ”Ford said at the time.
A final report last week from the Canadian Armed Forces, as they left their homes, indicated that some of them had lingering issues that the government must address.
The government has launched an independent commission on the province’s long-term care system.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a joint deal with 3M that will see the company produce N95 masks at a facility in Brockville, Ont.
Ottawa and the province will each contribute $ 23.3 million to help increase the plant’s capacity, which will allow it to produce up to 50 million N95 masks per year.
Ford called the announcement “the proudest day” since becoming Premier of Ontario and said it will ensure the province has a continued supply of key personal protective equipment for years to come.
He also said that in the first few months of the pandemic, there was a time when Ontario only had about a week of N95 masks.
“I can tell you, worrying about where we would receive the next shipment of PPE is what kept me from sleeping at night,” he said.
Ontario reported 131 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Friday, as well as 106 newly resolved cases.
The total number of cases now stands at 41,179, including 2,796 deaths and 37,397 cases marked as resolved.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said that due to an issue with the province’s reporting system, data that was not available Thursday in 11 of Ontario’s 34 public health units has added on Friday.
Because of this delay in reporting, the new figures are an “overestimate” of the daily number of cases, Elliott said.
The province was able to perform 28,073 tests the day before, she said.