Ontario’s New Democratic Party is calling on the Progressive Conservative government to restart the legislature immediately in order to address the deadly COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath made the request formally in a news release sent on Monday, asking members of provincial parliament to return to Queen’s Park despite the two-month winter break that started in early December.
“Long-term care homes are in a humanitarian crisis. Seniors are being forced to cry out to beg for food and water, while they’re left vulnerable to deadly infection,” Horwath said in her statement.
“All MPPs need to return to the legislature. We are facing a longer, deeper lockdown because [Premier] Doug Ford keeps choosing to do too little too late.”
Ontario reported 3,200 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 more deaths related to the disease. There are currently outbreaks at 233 long-term care homes. More than 1,160 residents and more than 1,140 staff at the homes are infected.
MPPs are slated to return to Queen’s Park for a new session on Feb. 16, but Horwath said there are “concrete actions” the legislature can take now that could help slow down the spread of the virus and save lives.
She echoed the requests from families of some long-term care residents, who have called on the province repeatedly to bring the military into nursing homes dealing with mass outbreaks.
Scarborough’s Tendercare Living Centre, which is struggling amid a deadly COVID-19 outbreak, has had protesters outside its facilities on numerous occasions for days demanding better care for their family members and military support.
During the first wave of the pandemic, the Ontario government brought the military into several long-term care homes, a move that helped save lives and stabilized facilities facing large numbers of infections and deaths.
The Official Opposition also requested that the legislature return to make decisions on unspent COVID-19 funds, including recent federal funding for Red Cross deployments.
In addition, Horwath has called on the government to overhaul the current “lethargic” COVID-19 vaccine program in order to quicken the process.
“The province is lagging far behind the country on vaccinations, and doesn’t appear to have a plan to ramp up,” she said. “Doug Ford has been resistant to spending, and resistant to action.
“The suffering, the loss and the anguish doesn’t have to continue on this scale if we make different choices.”
CTV News Toronto reached out to Ontario Premier Doug Ford's office about the NDP's request on Monday, but has not yet received a response on whether or not the legislature return date will change.