Military says still ‘minor’ problems in some Ontario long-term care homes


TORONTO — The Canadian Armed Forces says minor problems remain in some Ontario long-term care homes they were deployed to earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The military’s concerns outlined in a report dated Aug. 4 include worker skills and standards of practice in the seven nursing homes.

The reports attributes many of the problems to inexperienced staff who were quickly pressed into service in the homes during the pandemic.

Ontario called in the military to seven homes that struggled to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks starting in April.

Weeks later, the Forces said they observed cockroach infestations, aggressive feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, and residents crying for help for hours.

The Ministry of Long-term Care says all of the homes were stablized by the time the soldiers left in July.

“In short, I believe Ontario is well equipped to address any of these issues from this point forward,” Brig.-Gen. C.J.J. Mailkowski said in the report released Friday.

The military was initially called in to assist at Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamont Care Community in Toronto, Eatonville Care Centre in Toronto, Hawthorne Place in Toronto and Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton.

It was later also deployed to Downsview Long Term Care in Toronto and Woodbridge Vista Care in Woodbridge, Ont.

“There remain a small number of observations related to clinical skills and standards of care — often connected to training, expertise, and experience with new staff who were mobilized in short order — that were identified,” Mailkowski said.

“In every case, once identified … management, staff, and linked hospital team resolved to correct the issue within the resources available.”

The province says it will share the report with a commission it has established to probe the long-term care sector in the coming months.

“We welcome their observations, which will help us in our ongoing work to strengthen the long-term care sector,” Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said.

In June, Ombudsman Paul Dube started an investigation into the province’s pandemic oversight of long-term care homes because of what he read in a recent military report.

As of Friday, 1,800 residents in Ontario’s long-term care homes and eight workers have died of COVID-19.