The Ontario government is taking over the management of five additional GTA long-term care homes following a scathing military report detailing what the premier called “gut-wrenching” conditions in the facilities.
Four of the five privately-owned homes were the subject of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report that was released on Tuesday and made severe claims in terms of cleanliness, aggressive behavior of staff and general care of patients.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton and the Minister of Health Christine Elliott at Queen’s Park on Wednesday. He forcefully rejected a call from NDP leader Andrea Horwath to fire Minister Fullarton, citing her decades of experience in long-term care. “There is no one who stays awake at night time, who is worried more about the patients, that is pushing the table every single day and I count my blessings that I have Dr. Fullerton as a minister and Minister Christine Elliott as health,” Ford insisted.
Six teams of two inspectors will be sent to each of the homes highlighted in the military report as well as Camilla Care Centre in order to conduct an “expanded and rigorous inspection” of the facilities over a period of two weeks. Ford said that at least one of the inspectors will stay at the home for the entire duration of the assessment.
“We are fully prepared to take over more homes if necessary. We are fully prepared to pull licences, to shut down facilities, if it is necessary. We will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.”
Fullerton told reporters that about 3,000 inspections have been conducted in Ontario long-term care homes since June 2018 and dozens were specifically done at the five homes now under provincial management. She also said reports that in-person inspections were replaced by telephone check-ups were untrue.
On Wednesday, Ford renewed this call for an “open, transparent and independent commission” and even said he would appear as a witness if necessary. The time frame for the commencement of that probe has been moved up to July from September. “They have the full authority to investigate our government, my office, the ministry’s office. We want this to happen, we have been working 24-7, around the clock. I have two incredible ministers that are doing everything they can to fix a problem that we inherited—decades of neglect. We’re going to fix the problem that’s our job.”
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