OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised the military will respond to provincial requests for assistance at long-term care facilities hit hard by COVID-19, but says the measure is a short-term solution and Canada should not “have soldiers taking care of seniors.”
Trudeau appeared visibly upset as he made the comments during his daily news conference on Thursday, one day after Quebec and Ontario formally requested hundreds of soldiers to bolster front-line care workers overwhelmed by outbreaks in dozens of facilities.
Speaking directly to people who work, live or have loved ones in such facilities, Trudeau said: “If you’re angry, frustrated, scared, you’re right to feel this way. We can do better. We need to do better. Because we are failing our parents, our grandparents, our elders.”
The Canadian Armed Forces deployed 130 military personnel last week to help five long-term care facilities in Quebec, and military planners are now assessing what support they can offer in response to the new requests from Ontario and Quebec.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday that the province is asking for 1,000 more service members. Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he has also asked for support for five long-term care homes that have been hit by COVID-19.
“Our women and men in uniform will step up with the valour and courage they have always shown,” Trudeau said.
“But this is not a long-term solution. In Canada, we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors. Going forward, in the weeks and months to come, we will all have to ask tough questions about how it came to this.”
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press