Ontario receives ‘heart-breaking’, ‘horrific’ reports on long-term care from military

Cleanliness, insect infestation, staffing levels among problems at facilities

Ontario receives ‘heart-breaking’, ‘horrific’ reports on long-term care from military
The reports they provided us were heart-breaking, they were horrific. It’s shocking that this can happen here in Canada.

The Ontario government has received a report from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) which details medical, professional and technical issues present in five long-term care facilities in the province, which the military inspected over two weeks.

“The reports they provided us were heart-breaking, they were horrific. It’s shocking that this can happen here in Canada,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford during a press briefing on Tuesday. “It’s gut-wrenching, and reading those reports is the hardest thing I’ve done as Premier, knowing that so much more needs to be done.”

For example, the report notes that at Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York, nurses and PSWs were often observed not changing personal protective equipment (PPE) for several hours while moving between numerous patient rooms. According to the report, equipment is seldom, if ever disinfected. “Little to no disinfection had been conducted at the facility prior to CAF operations” and “significant gross fecal contamination was noted in numerous patient rooms.”

An insect infestation was also highlighted, and N-95 masks were provided to staff without a fit test. Patients also observed crying for help with the facility staff not responding for 30 minutes and even up to two hours. Other issues noted include a linen shortage, and that there was one registered nurse assigned to 200 patients.

In another part of the report, it is noted that at Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, the night shift is understaffed and often requires significant movement of personnel within the facility to stabilize the number of personnel between wings. The full report is available here.

As of Monday, there were 225 deaths in the five facilities: 77 in Orchard Villa; 52 in Altamont Care Community; 42 in Eatonville; 43 in Hawthorne Place; and 11 in Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor in Brampton.

Recently, Ontario issued Mandatory Management Orders appointing local hospitals to temporarily manage two long-term care homes that have been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19 despite receiving hospital support for weeks.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is recommending the provincial government to return long-term and home care to the public sector as a publicly funded and integrated system. Earlier this month, workers’ union SEIU Healthcare called on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to immediately commission a public inquiry, pursuant to section 3 of the Public Inquiries Act, to investigate the deaths of residents and frontline workers in long-term care facilities in the province.

Ontario will be launching an independent commission into Ontario's long-term care system beginning in September that will provide the government with guidance on how to improve the system and better protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks, according to the government.