Ontario Committed to Protecting Long-Term Care Residents, Families and Staff
Protocols in place to help keep province’s most vulnerable safe
TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued the following statement related to long-term care and COVID-19 in Ontario:
"Since we first learned of COVID-19, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation and taking decisive action to contain the spread of this new virus and ensure the province's health care system is ready for any scenario. As the situation continues to change, the province is actively working with our partners at all levels in the health care system to implement enhanced measures and update protocols and procedures as necessary.
In order to ensure a safe and secure environment for residents, the Chief Medical Officer of Health recently advised long-term care homes to only allow essential visitors—people visiting residents who are very ill or require end-of-life care—until further notice.
This decision was not made lightly. We recognize visits provide important social connections and improvements to quality of life for long-term care residents and families may feel frustration, sadness and even anger in light of this change. However, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and well-being of Ontarians—especially long-term care residents who are more vulnerable to such diseases, as well as their families and staff—is our number one priority.
We would like to assure families that we are closely monitoring the situation and will provide our homes across the province with an update on this guidance as the situation evolves.
Our government is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure loved ones in Ontario's long-term care homes are safe and secure. Long-term care homes will continue to restrict non-essential visits and actively screen essential visitors, staff, students, volunteers, residents moving into a long-term care home and residents returning to a long-term care home. In addition, when long-term care homes submit samples for standard respiratory testing as part of their respiratory infection outbreak protocols currently in place for flu season, they are also being tested for COVID-19 automatically to ensure the province identifies potentially unknown cases.
Our government is monitoring the situation closely with plans to re-evaluate in the coming weeks and will ensure consistency with other public health measures in effect.
We also want to thank the staff working at long-term care homes in these challenging conditions. Their efforts and dedication during this time will go far to improve the lives of those residents in homes.
Everyday actions that reduce exposure to the virus and help prevent the spread of germs should be continually practiced. For credible information on how to protect yourself, what to do if you're sick after you travel and how to recognize possible symptoms visit Ontario's website.
Ontario has also established dedicated assessment centres in areas experiencing significant growth in COVID-19 testing, with additional centres being established across the province in the coming weeks. Before visiting an assessment centre, individuals should first seek guidance on whether it is appropriate for them to do so. Ontarians can do so by using a new online self-assessment tool, calling Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or calling their local public health unit. People should not go to an assessment centre unless they have symptoms of COVID-19."