Military personnel will not be going back into Ontario's long-term care homes

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Canadian Armed Forces personnel will not be re-entering Ontario's hardest-hit long-term care homes as they did earlier in the pandemic, Premier Doug Ford's office confirmed Wednesday. 

The clarification comes after the premier seemed to open the door to the assistance after a phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

"He's offered that up, we'll take all the help we can get, I never refuse help, if it's the military, if it's the Red Cross, if it's anyone," he said, when first asked about the idea. 

He later said in a news conference if that meant the military would be returning, that he would reach out to the ministries of health and long-term care. 

"To see how quickly and I always believe, we need them quick, to see when they can come in, to see if that's required, in my opinion some homes, it's required," he said. 

But his office later said that due to Red Cross personnel and some hospitals taking over some of the hardest hit facilities, that would not be happening. 

The clarification came shortly after a statement following the news conference.

The Canadian Forces report departed Ontario's most impacted long-term care homes on July 3rd after arriving in April at the start of the pandemic. 

A CAF report into the deployment on May 26th outlined horrific conditions residents were found in, as well as staffing and PPE concerns at the time. 

Officers also found insect infestations, old food trays stacked inside rooms and patients crying for help, but with no answer. 

The decision comes as the latest projections from the COVID-19 science table show how devastating the month of January has been for the long-term care sector. 

Since January 1st, 198 residents and two staff members have died. 

"Forecasts suggest more deaths in wave 2 in longterm care than in wave 1," the report said. 

But Ford and Gen. Rick Hillier - leading the vaccination effort - say vaccinations are moving at a fast pace. 

"We took the premier's challenge to vaccinate all of the long-term care homes and the high-risk retirement homes, in the four areas of Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex, we are three-quarters, 75 per cent along completing that mission," he said. "Some of the regions will be completed by 12 January, others 15 January, 16 January, the last one by 18 January we believe." 

"We will have vaccinated with the first needle, all of the residents and the health care staff and the essential care workers and the essential people in those homes, we will have vaccinated them with the first needle by the 15th of February."