Improved Conditions at Ontario Nursing Homes, as Govt Thanks Armed Forces for Help

August 17, 2020 Updated: August 17, 2020

Conditions have improved at nursing homes hit hard during the pandemic, thanks to the assistance provided by the Canadian Armed Forces, according to a CAF report.

CAF stepped in to aid seven long-term care homes in Ontario amid the pandemic by deploying nurses, medical technicians, and additional personnel, under Operation LASER. The operation started in April and ended on July 3.

In May, CAF released an initial interim report that described disturbing conditions in the homes, prompting the provincial government to launch inspections and provide emergency funding, staffing support, expanded testing, and other measures to improve the situation.

CAF released its outgoing report on Aug. 14, stating that the situation had stabilized in all seven homes by July, when the military took its leave.

Brigadier-General Conrad Mialkowski has informed Richard Steele, deputy minister of long-term care, that the nursing homes no longer need military support. With the improvements in prevention and other measures, the virus is under control.

Remaining concerns include the training of new staff and to the supervision necessary to ensure consistent infection prevention and control measures.

The Ontario government thanked the troops for their “invaluable assistance” during the outbreak, and CAF for the report.

“Ontario thanks the Canadian Armed Forces for their final report and for the invaluable assistance they provided during our time of need,” Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, said in a press release. “We welcome their observations, which will help us in our ongoing work to strengthen the long-term care sector.”

The government has launched a commission to examine how the virus infected people at the province’s long-term care homes and to provide guidance on how to protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks.