Problems at long-term care homes in spotlight as House of Commons returns

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As the House of Commons returns Saturday in an effort to pass the wage subsidy bill to help beleaguered businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, Canada must also contend with major problems at long-term care homes.

A group home for adults with disabilities just north of Toronto, Ont., reports that an outbreak there led most personal support workers to walk off the job Thursday.

Meanwhile, regional health authorities in Quebec have taken over two facilities after troubling issues emerged in recent days.

A Montreal-area health authority says it asked the Ministry of Health and Social Services for the right to place the privately-owned Residence Herron under its management after an outbreak of COVID-19.

CIUSSS Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montreal said in a statement it has deployed a manager to ensure better control of the situation at the facility, where two people have died.

"Our teams are highly mobilized to ensure that residents receive appropriate care," the health authority said. "We are aware that this is a difficult situation for the residents and their families. We are putting everything in place to ensure that the situation is under control, and it is in the process of stabilizing."

The Quebec government asked for a full report after learning of a Montreal Gazette story that alleged authorities found two residents dead and many others who hadn't received proper treatment.

"As for the specific situations mentioned when we were not yet in charge of the establishment: we will make all the necessary inquiries on how the patients were treated," the health authority said. "Having said that, we are now responsible for the facility and we are working very hard to ensure that the residents have the best possible living conditions."

In Ottawa, the wage subsidy bill would allow companies to get a 75-per-cent subsidy on each employee's wages.

"Our immediate priority is making sure everyone gets the help they need. Millions of people who need help don't qualify for the CERB," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said. "We want to quickly pass the wage subsidy and fix the gaps in the CERB so no is left behind.

"We are committed to holding the government to account during the pandemic, but we won't use that as a bargaining chip to delay getting help to people who need it."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to make his televised address to Canadians from parliament on Saturday after doing it outside his home for the past 26 days.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is also expected to hold a news conference in the morning to discuss the government's response to COVID-19 and the recall of the House.

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