A military report released Tuesday shed light on the “gut-wrenching” conditions of five long-term care homes in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report revealed the grim state inside the facilities, claiming not only that there were staffing shortages and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), but also that there were bug infestations, old food trays stacked inside resident rooms and that patients were observed “crying for help with staff not responding.”
In an emotional address to the public on Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said a report from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on long-term care homes in the province is “heartbreaking” and “horrific.”
“We knew these homes were having serious problems and needed help,” Ford said. “We didn’t know the full extent.”
“It’s gut wrenching and reading those reports was the hardest thing I’ve done as premier.”
The report from the military looked into five homes in the province receiving their assistance, Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamont Care Community in Toronto, Eatonville Care Centre in Toronto, Hawthorne Place in Toronto and Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton.
It claims there was fecal contamination, rotten food, cockroaches, and residents not being cleaned and bathed.
“It’s absolutely appalling,” Ford said. “These are just standard operating procedures to clean someone.”
“It’s so disturbing when I read this, it was heard to get though it.”
The CAF also witnessed “abusive” behaviour, including not adapting when residents indicated they were in pain and “inappropriate comments directed at residents.”
“COVID-19 has exposed the deep, deep cracks in long-term care,” Ford said. “It is up to us to face the hard truths that have been ignored for decades.”
When asked why the provincial government did not know conditions were this bad in these facilities, the premier maintained his government did not fail the system but rather “saved a lot of lives” through its recent actions.
“I take full accountability for the system that we inherited,” Ford said. “The buck stops with me and I take ownership.”
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, said these facilities have been the government’s “top priority” throughout the pandemic.
“We will continue to be transparent with the people of Ontario,” Dr. Fullerton said. “We have said all along that our long-term care system needs to be repaired.”
She said there has been “significant improvement” in the five homes since the report was released.
“As our population aged, as the staffing became more problematic into a crisis, just before COVID, that had been on my radar and as a minister of long-term care, I was looking to address that,” Dr. Fullerton said. “This is a national issue, this is something that everyone has known about for years, our population was aging, long-term care was ignored.”