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May 26th Update from Federal and Provincial Governments

May 26, 2020

Message from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry:

Below is the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal:

  • Conditions are so bad in some of the Ontario long term care homes where members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been assisting during the COVID-19 pandemic that the military prepared a written report that was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal cabinet.  The Prime Minister revealed the existence of the report and his distress and disgust at its contents at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa.  The report has been sent by Ottawa to Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario Government.
  • Mr. Trudeau said he felt “anger, sadness and frustration” when he read the report from the military.  “We must improve the situation in long term homes.  These situations have been going on for a long time. Their Federal Government will be there.”
  • Just how the Federal Government will be there is not entirely clear, since long term care and nursing homes fall into provincial jurisdiction. However, members of the armed forces are providing support in long term care homes at the request of Ontario and Quebec. There are 250 Canadian Armed Forces members at long term homes in Ontario and 1,500 at homes in Quebec. Both provincial governments have asked for an extension of the Forces participation and while Trudeau said no formal decision has been taken on the requests he implied that both would be accepted.
  • Trudeau also said the government is continuing to acquire Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) both from abroad and in Canada. In the past ten week forty flights have arrived in Canada bringing millions of  masks and hospital gowns that have been distributed across the country. In addition the Government has now signed a contract with General Motors in Oshawa to produce 10 Million face masks. And a different contract has been signed to produce 1,000 ventilators.
  • The Prime Minister is organizing a virtual conference on Thursday to discuss the economic fallout that will hit the world as the pandemic recedes. The conference is being co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez and Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness. A variety of World leaders will participate, as well as International financial experts including Canada’s Mark Carney.

Provincial: 

  • The Ontario government outlined the key findings from the Canadian Armed Forces report on the five long-term care homes at which the military has been assisting. The report details serious concerns around infection prevention, safety, staffing and level of care.
  • The Premier announced that the province will take immediate action to investigate the concerns raised by the Canadian Armed Forces, and has asked the federal government and the Canadian Armed Forces to extend their current mission for at least an additional 30 days.
  • An active investigation based on the Canadian Armed Forces report has begun and one death has been referred to the Office of the Chief Coroner for investigation. The Ministry of Long-Term Care Inspections Branch will immediately investigate specific critical incidents referred to in the report.
  • The government recently announced it will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September. The government also continues to work with hospital partners to assist long-term care homes across the province with clinical, infection prevention and control, and other supports.
  • When asked if this report was enough for a full public inquiry and whether the province would take over all Long Care Term facilities, the Premier said that everything was on the table and wasn’t ruling anything out at this point.

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