Federal government approves premier Ford's request for military aid

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Ontario's hard hit long-term care homes will be getting military support, after the federal government approved a request for back-up from Premier Doug Ford.

Members with the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to five long-term care homes to help manage administrative duties, freeing up nurses and personal support workers to focus on patient care and giving overworked staff much needed respite. 

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the province requested 250 soldiers, to be deployed in teams of 50. 

Medically-trained personnel will be directed to support long-term care staff by an officer, while those without medical backgrounds may be used for administrative tasks. 

In Quebec, where at least 150 troops were deployed on April 19, soldiers have been helping with daily activities such as feeding and changing residents, tidying up rooms and moving patients within facilities.

Ontairo's long-term care homes have been ravaged by COVID-19, taking the lives of 516 residents—representing 72 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in the province –and leaving 2,189 additional residents stricken with the virus. 

More than 1,000 employees in 128 residences have also contracted the virus, and one long-term care staff member has died. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cautioned that the request for military assistance is a "short-term" solution to allow provinces to "get in control" of long-term care outbreaks. 

"In Canada, we shouldn't have soldiers taking care of seniors," Trudeau said. "In the weeks and months to come, we will all have to ask tough questions about how it came to this."