Ontario asks long-term care homes for plan to stem the spread of COVID-19


TORONTO - Ontario's Ministry of Long-Term Care has asked the facilities hardest hit by COVID-19 to come up with a plan to stabilize the virus's spread within their walls.

Deputy Minister Richard Steele made the request in a letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, sent to long-term care homes on Friday.

He asked the facilities to outline how they'll improve leadership through new hires and ensure on-site physicians and medical coverage will be provided _ with a deadline of noon on Monday.

The ministry also wants the facilities to outline how they'll ensure that staffing levels remain stable.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has reported more than 1,200 deaths related to COVID-19 in the homes.

News of the province's request came as Ontario reported the virus's lowest growth rate in well over a month on Sunday _ 294 new cases, which amounts to a 1.5 per cent jump over the previous day.

The new total stands at 20,238 confirmed cases, with a death toll of 1,634.

Those numbers come from a separate database than the number of deaths counted by the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

The Deputy Minister's request comes on the same day Newstalk1010 reported that at least 35 people at Downsview Long Term Care home have been confirmed dead. 

That's more than double last week's reported death toll: The facility was reporting just 15 deaths last week, including a personal support worker.

At least 59 residents and 74 staff members have tested positive for the virus at the long term care facility.

We also learned today that the federal government is looking into developing a program that would train unemployed Canadians to help at the many long term care homes across the country that are struggling to cope with COVID-19 outbreaks. 

"We may create - working with the Home Care Workers Associations of Canada - some kind of training, so that people who aren't in those jobs now, maybe people who are at home and unemployed can take a shortened version of this training," says Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.

Ottawa is working to have the program up and running within the next several weeks.

With files from Heather Seaman