Ontario calls out the military to help fight COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term homes

Apr 23, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has asked Ottawa to send military personnel to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in the province’s long-term care homes. Ford said in a fight like this, nothing is left off the table.

During a newsconference in Toronto, Ford said there is a duty to protect those who can’t protect themselves. He was referring to seniors homes, which have been hit hard by COVID-19. Of the 660 virus deaths in the province, 447 have been residents at long-term care homes.

Ford said Ottawa has offered to help, and he has now made a formal request to the federal government for assistance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces.

“We will begin by directing that the additional personnel be deployed to five priority homes in the province," Ford said. "Their support will provide staffing relief, so staff can focus on the care of the residents.  They will assist with operations, coordination with medical care, logistics and general assistance to support the day-to-day operations."

Health officials have yet to determine which long-term care homes will get the support from the military.

Last week, more than 100 miltary personnel were deployed to Quebec to aid in the fight against the coronavirus in that provinces senior’s residences, and Premier Francois Legault has officially asked for another 1,000 members of the armed forces to help.

In addition, testing will be expanded to include every resident and worker in Ontario's long-term care homes, as there have been 128 outbreaks within Ontario’s 630 facilities.

Provincial health officials have previously resisted calls for such widespread testing of asymptomatic people. But a new memo from the deputy ministers of health and long-term care, as well as Ontario's chief medical officer of health, tells public health units to immediately develop plans for the broad testing.

Ontario is also for the first time reporting more than 50% of COVID-19 cases have recovered. Officials said there have been 510 new cases since yesterday and 37 more deaths. The 4.3% increase in cases over the previous day is the lowest growth rate in weeks.

By the numbers, there are 40,190 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada (as of 4 a.m. Thursday).

  • Quebec: 20,965 confirmed (including 1,134 deaths, 4,291 resolved)
  • Ontario: 12,245 confirmed (including 659 deaths, 6,221 resolved)
  • Alberta: 3,401 confirmed (including 66 deaths, 1,310 resolved)
  • British Columbia: 1,795 confirmed (including 90 deaths, 1,079 resolved)
  • Nova Scotia: 772 confirmed (including 12 deaths, 338 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 326 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 261 resolved)
  • Manitoba: 246 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 154 resolved), 11 presumptive
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 256 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 199 resolved)
  • New Brunswick: 118 confirmed (including 104 resolved)
  • Prince Edward Island: 26 confirmed (including 24 resolved)
  • Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed
  • Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 8 resolved)
  • Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
  • Nunavut: No confirmed cases

The Associated Press contributed to this story.