The Ontario government announced that the province is making a formal request to the federal government for additional resources to help fight COVID-19. This includes a request for assistance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces. These additional resources will be provided to five long-term care homes that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 outbreaks and will provide staffing relief, help with medical care and logistics.
Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton announced that the province is increasing testing on symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in all long-term care facilities, having tested over 11,000 so far. Fullerton also thanked the public health teams from hospitals which are now supporting over 100 long-term care homes in the province and noted that 20 long-term care homes that were previously considered to be in an outbreak are now outbreak-free.
My colleagues Lisa Gretzky, Taras Natyshak, and I are calling on the Government to immediately make major changes and investments in long-term care and home care to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
As of April 22, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reports that 42 per cent of all COVID-19 cases locally stem from long-term care and nursing home residents and staff members. There are currently outbreaks confirmed at least six facilities.
As a result of decades of chronic neglect, long-term care and home care across Ontario were already facing damaging underfunding and understaffing before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, there have been outbreaks at dozens of long-term care homes across the province.
We are calling for major changes and investments, including:
- Aggressively recruiting home care and long-term care staff
- Mandate that more staff be scheduled on each shift in each long-term care home
- Immediately increase salaries for staff to a minimum of $22/hr in order to retain and attract workers, including Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs)
- Assign each staff member to one facility only, and ensure they have full-time hours, to eliminate the potential for staff to transmit COVID-19 to other facilities, ending all exceptions
- Standardize visitor policies province-wide to prevent COVID-19 transmission from visitors and volunteers, seeking Public Health determination on the safest policy
- Mandate that home care workers wear personal protective equipment — including gloves and a surgical mask — for every home visit, to avoid transmission from one vulnerable client to another, and mandate long-term care staff wear PPE any time they’re with residents
- Create a caregiver fund to support families that choose to care for their loved one at home
The federal government is launching a new benefit program to provide immediate supports for young Canadians by investing $9 billion to create new jobs and double student grants. Under the new benefit, post-secondary students will be eligible for $1,250 a month from May to August. Those with disabilities or who are taking care of someone else will be eligible to receive $1,750 monthly. The payment will be retroactive to May 1st and will be delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency.
Working students earning less than $1,000 per month, as well as college and university students who are currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 will also be eligible for the program.
The Prime Minister also announced that his government will expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities for young people. The research sector will receive $291 million to extend scholarship fellowships and grants.
The government is also launching a Student Service Grant that will provide up to $5,000 in additional bursary support to students involved in actively fighting against COVID-19 this summer.
The Prime Minister also noted that the government will work directly with provinces and territories to provide students in Quebec, North West Territories and Nunavut increased funding to financial aid, including $75 million for first nations, Métis, and Inuit students.
No additional deaths were reported Wednesday. Twelve new cases were confirmed.
My team is updating my website regularly with important links to services. I would encourage you to please visit here if you are looking for assistance: https://www.percyhatfield.com/important_websites_for_covid-19
I implore everyone to continue what you are doing to stay safe. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and always follow the advice of medical professionals.