On April 22, 2020, the Ontario government announced important new measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care (“LTC”) homes in the province, which are very significant for employers operating LTC homes.
The measures that the government announced include:
- more aggressive testing, including testing of both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff and residents in LTC homes;
- creating a 24/7 Long-Term Care COVID-19 Response Team for putting infection control protocols in place, resolving staffing issues, and providing needed personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to LTC homes;
- providing assistance to LTC homes that have experienced outbreaks, in order to help them become outbreak-free;
- coordinating qualified people and volunteers to assist LTC homes with duties such as nursing support and cleaning;
- responding to every “escalated request” for PPE from LTC homes within 24 hours; and
- working with hospitals to deploy additional staff and infection prevention controls to LTC homes.
Further, Ontario announced that it is taking up the federal government on its offer to provide additional personnel to support LTC homes from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Armed Forces.
These additional measures will provide a significant boost to employers operating LTC homes, which are presently facing unimaginable challenges as they are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such employers that have not already done so should avail themselves of the new governmental assistance to help protect the health and safety of their residents and employees. In particular, employers operating LTC homes facing staffing issues or PPE shortages should ensure that they make their needs known to the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Response Team as soon as possible.
Thank you to all the front-line workers putting themselves at risk to protect others. Keep well, and safe.
This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues. This information is not intended as legal advice.