Ontario restricts long-term care home workers to one facility amid COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will be issuing an emergency order to limit long-term care home staff to working at one facility in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking at Queen’s Park following an emergency sitting at the legislature, the premier said that order is part of a new “enhanced action plan” to fight the virus in those facilities.
“We will spare no expense,” Ford said. “We must redeploy every available resource to our long-term care homes.”
Ontario health officials said that as of Tuesday morning, there were 93 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the province. More than 130 COVID-19-related deaths can be linked to those outbreaks.
The novel coronavirus has disproportionately hit long-term care homes in Ontario despite new funding announced and a promise by Health Minister Christine Elliott to erect an “iron ring” around the facilities.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) has long-called for staff to be restricted to a single facility instead of working in multiple homes as a result of redeployment orders or the need to hold numerous part-time positions as a health-care workers.
“We're letting the house burn and then we come in and we're trying to save some. This is more than a request, it's a plea,” Doris Grinspun, the CEO of RNAO said last week.
Both the Ontario Nurses' Association and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath have also called on the Progressive Conservatives to place limitations on long-term care homes, saying that unless the province orders employers to keep the same staff, the virus will continue to spread to those most vulnerable.
“The time will come to evaluate the damage done by allowing this practice to continue for weeks during a pandemic,” Horwath said in a statement on Tuesday. “But today, we have to stop it. The government has to step in and stop workers from working in more than one care home, which risks bringing the virus from one facility to another.”
Ford said that the government needed to ensure facilities had enough resources before issuing the emergency order.
“I’m issuing this order today as it is possible because we have the staffing resources in place,” Ford said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said they are in talks about providing compensation to anyone who loses money due to the fact that they can only work at one facility.
The provincial order is expected to be issued Tuesday night, Ford said, while the enhanced action plan will be launched on Wednesday.
With files from the Canadian Press