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Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie ‘wouldn’t hesitate’ to call in military if COVID-19 cases worsen at long-term-care homes

Posted: January 12, 2021

(January 11, 2021)

By: Steve Cornwell, Mississauga News

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is calling on senior levels of government to do more to bolster local long-term-care (LTC) homes, but said she’s not calling for military assistance just yet.

Crombie made the call at a recent press conference, hours after the news of Maureen Ambersely’s death, a nurse working at Extendicare nursing home in Mississauga, who passed Jan. 5 after testing positive for COVID-19.

“We were assured by the province that an iron ring would be put around out LTCs to protect our residents, but we know that hasn’t been enough,” Crombie said. “Frankly I’m frustrated, and we need more to be done to protect those that are the most vulnerable in our communities.”

There have been over 2,324 COVID-19 cases among residents and staff in LTC homes across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, according to numbers from Peel Health.

As of Jan. 10, the health authority had reported 327 residents and two long-term-care staff deaths related to the virus.

Camilla Care Community in Mississauga has had 72 residents with COVID-19 die to date, among the highest reported death tolls related to the virus among LTCs in the province.

In April 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19 in Ontario, Canadian Forces were called in to help at five long-term-care homes, including Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton.

At this point, Crombie said she didn’t think any congregate settings in Mississauga, which would include LTCs, needed military assistance.

“Should we meet that threshold I wouldn’t hesitate to make that ask,” she said.

The province needs to recruit more staff, Crombie said, and offer pandemic pay boosts to attract more workers to LTCs.

She also asked for the province and federal governments to ensure sick pay for LTC employees and others who might be going to work with COVID-19 symptoms due concerns of losing their jobs.

Peel Health, working with provincial health authorities and LTC administrators, “are able to at this time, address the outbreaks that currently exist,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health.

“Certainly, if there are additional requests or needs for assistance, that would be something that I imagine the integrated response team would highly consider,” he said.

A recent release from health advocacy group Ontario Health Coalition called on the province government to intervene in LTC homes to “stabilize staffing and ensure infection control practices are followed,” including sending in the military.

“Hospital teams must be sent into all of the homes where staffing has fallen to unsafe levels and the military is needed as an emergency measure where hospital overloads are delaying decisions to send in teams,” the Jan. 7 release said.

The province has announced plans to vaccinate all LTC residents, health-care workers and essential caregivers in Peel, and other COVID-19 hot spot areas, by Jan. 21.

“We continue to do everything we can to help stop the spread of this virus and protect our most vulnerable, as well as the staff who have been working tirelessly to keep residents safe,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, in a release from the province.

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