Ontario places extra restrictions on long-term care homes to curb COVID-19

Long-term care residents restricted from going out with family or visitors for the day

If for some reason you thought signing out an elderly parent from a long-term care home to take them out for the day was a good idea, that’s not going to happen.

Under a new directive issued by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, residents are now restricted from leaving a long-term care home for short visits with family and friends. The province said this is to ensure residents do not contract COVID-19 while out of the home and spread the virus upon their return. Residents will be able to go outside as long as they remain on the home’s property and maintain safe social distancing from any family and friends who visit them.

“The health and well-being of all Ontarians, including long-term care residents, their families, and staff will continue to be our government’s number one priority,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Our government is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure our loved ones in Ontario’s long-term care homes are safe and secure.”

The Ford government has already banned non-essential visits to Ontario’s long-term care homes. All people entering a long-term care home in the province are screened at the door.

The government is also making sure long-term care beds are available to ensure homes are able to provide isolation rooms when required, as well as providing long-term care beds for people on the long-term care waitlist. The province expects patients in the hospital who no longer require hospital services will benefit from this increased capacity. As well, the province believes this will also free up hospital beds to treat acute patients.

Long-term care homes are also being given the ability to free-up valuable staff, identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans.

Under this temporary order long-term care homes will be able to respond to, prevent and alleviate an outbreak of COVID-19 by carrying out measures such as:

  • Redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the health service provider;
  • Changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;
  • Changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments;
  • Deferring or cancelling vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise;
  • Employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;
  • Using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining unit work; and
  • Providing appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.