The Ford government has announced it will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system and its response to the impact of the coronavirus.
In a statement on Tuesday, Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton said the province will be finalizing the details of the commission over the next several months, including terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines.
“An independent non-partisan commission is the best way to conduct a thorough and expedited review,” Fullerton said.
The commission is set to launch in September.
The Ontario Long-Term Care Association, opposition parties and health-care union SEIU have all called for a full public inquiry into the sector.
Last week, the province issued a new emergency order allowing it to temporarily replace management at some long-term care homes struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks, but the province’s health minister said there were no immediate plans to use the sweeping tool.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the new measure is meant to strengthen protections for vulnerable seniors in those facilities and ensure the province can move rapidly in case a home needs urgent help.
Nearly 1,400 long-term care residents have died amid COVID-19 outbreaks in the facilities, as well as five staff members.
The number of long-term care homes experiencing an outbreak has grown over the past few weeks, even as the government has imposed increasing restrictions and implemented widespread testing.