Ontario will allow visitors at long-term care homes, retirement homes and care homes starting June 18.
Premier Ford called it “a cautious restart” during his news conference on Thursday from Queen’s Park.
“We need families to be able to see their loved ones and today we are taking the first steps to help reunite families,” Ford said. “Long-term care homes will allow outdoor visits of one person, per resident, each week.”
Visitors must have tested negative for COVID-19 two weeks prior to visiting long-term care homes and you won’t be able to visit a home with an outbreak.
Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said there are currently COVID-19 outbreaks at 67 long-term care homes in the province.
Fullerton said indoor visits will be allowed in designated areas of retirement homes.
“Other residential care settings will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at time,” Fullerton said.
Meanwhile, as most of the province gets set to enter the next stage of reopening, health officials reported the fewest number of new COVID-19 cases since March 28.
The province reported 203 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
Health officials also said that 82 percent of Ontario’s cumulative cases are resolved.
Premier Ford and Health Minister Elliott both tested negative for COVID-19.
They were tested “out of an abundance of caution” yesterday afternoon after they were in close contact with Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
Lecce, who also tested negative for the virus, had come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
New patient ombudsman will oversee LTC investigation
The Ontario government named a new patient ombudsman on Thursday to oversee an investigation into the experiences of long-term care residents during the pandemic.
Cathy Fooks will begin her five-year term on July 13.
Health Minister Christine Elliott was Ontario’s first patient ombudsman.
“I know how this role can directly help people by shining a spotlight on how we can improve the quality of care for all Ontarians. I am confident Ms. Fooks will be a great partner by making sure all voices are heard and concerns are brought to our attention,” Elliott said.
The patient ombudsman investigates complaints about long-term care homes and hospitals.
Close to 90 percent of all deaths in the province were residents of long-term care homes.
Class-action lawsuit filed against Province of Ontario on behalf of residents
The province of Ontario was notified on Thursday that a Toronto law firm is launching a class-action lawsuit on behalf of long-term care residents.
The lawsuit alleges the province was negligent in its overseeing of nursing homes during the COVID-19 outbreak.
It will also allege the province breached the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“For too long, the elderly and invalid have been ignored in this province,” Kirk Baert, a partner at Koskie Minsky LLP, said in a statement on the firm’s website.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.