Internal government documents obtained, indicate that Ontario did not adequately prepare the long-term care system for the threats posed by COVID-19 until the virus spread to nursing homes throughout the province.
As cases continued to arrive in Ontario and the damage caused by the infections in Italy became evident, only a few documents from the ministries mentioned protecting long-term care residents in February.
The records, taken together, contribute to the evidence that the provincial government paid far less attention to preparing long-term care facilities for the coronavirus’s effects than hospitals.
Various interventions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes were either not placed on the table as options or not put into effect for weeks after the global pandemic was declared on March 11, according to the records.
16 homes had already registered confirmed cases of COVID-19 by that date. Within a week, the amount had quadrupled. Premier Doug Ford vowed the next day to put an “iron ring” around Ontario’s vulnerable seniors. After that date, almost all of the 3,756 COVID-19-related deaths in long-term care residents occurred.
According to experts in the field, the records, it is accessed via the province’s freedom of information laws, offer further proof that Ontario’s long-term care homes were unprepared for the pandemic.
Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, said long-term care homes were “completely vulnerable.”
According to Vivian Stamatopoulos, an advocate for long-term care tenants and their families, Ontario’s Ministry of Long-Term Care has not established an emergency plan to prepare for a pandemic. This government failed to follow the precautionary principle in ensuring the safety of these citizens. “I don’t believe there’s any doubt at this point,” Stamatopoulos, an associate professor at Ontario Tech University, said.
The novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international significance by the World Health Organization on January 30, 2020.