Canadian Armed Forces departing Ontario long-term care homes


The Ontario government just announced that members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who were deployed to help out in high-priority long-term care homes during the COVID-19 outbreak are departing those posts. 

The final team concludes its work today.  

Under Operation LASER, the CAF deployed teams consisting of nurses, medical technicians and additional personnel. They have been working in Ontario long-term care homes since April, providing staffing support and helping with infection prevention and control, as well as other duties such as cleaning and food preparation.

In May, CAF members released a damning report on the state of several long-term care homes in the province. The province says the Ministry of Long-Term Care has been addressing issues around infection control, standards of practice/quality of care, supplies, local practices, communication, staffing and inappropriate behaviour in response. 

Over the course of their mission, the CAF teams worked in several hard-hit homes, including Orchard Villa, Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor, Altamont Care Community, Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Downsview Long Term Care, and Woodbridge Vista Care Community.

According to the province, each home identified as high-risk has been inspected or has an inspection underway. Inspections at all the CAF-supported homes have been completed and have since been expanded with inspectors remaining onsite.

Temporary management has been appointed at Altamont Care Community, Camilla Care Community, Orchard Villa, Extendicare Guildwood, River Glen Haven, Downsview Long Term Care, Woodbridge Vista Care Community, Forest Heights and Hawthorne Place Care Centre.

Each home identified as high-risk has been required to submit a plan to the ministry that details how they are improving care standards.

“We owe our brave men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces, and the military families who support them, a debt of gratitude for their service to our province during this crisis,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement. 

“From providing relief to our frontline workers, to taking care of our loved ones in long-term care homes, they have been there for their fellow Canadians when we needed them most. We hope to find ways in the near future to properly show our thanks for their contributions and for the contributions of all Ontarians who have gone above and beyond these past few months.”

The government recently announced the launch of an independent, non-partisan commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in July 2020. 

According to the province, 1,712 long-term care residents have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The number of long-term care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak has decreased from 150 homes on May 25 to 44 as of July 2, out of a total of 626 homes. 

The Ontario government says that more than 90 per cent of homes (582) have no resident cases.

The province says the number of homes identified as high-risk has decreased from 23 on May 27 to five as of June 30. The province also says the number of active resident cases has decreased from 1,855 on May 25 to 167 and the volume of active staff cases has decreased from 1,335  on May 25 to 287 as of July 2.

The number of homes identified as having critical staffing shortages has decreased from 20 on May 25 to zero as of July 2. The province also says the number of homes identified as having critical PPE shortages has decreased from four on May 25 to zero as of July 2.

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