A commission examining the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario’s long-term care system has heard the government rejected proposals that could have helped protect vulnerable residents during the second wave because they were deemed too expensive.
An infectious disease specialist and member of the province’s science advisory group told the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission the proposals included mechanisms for hospitals to support the long-term care sector, and to ensure seniors wouldn’t be housed three or four to a room during the second wave.
Dr. Allison McGeer said the plans were presented by doctors largely to the Ministry of Health, though some may have gone before the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
McGeer was one of several doctors to testify before the commission on March 4 regarding the second wave of the pandemic and why it proved deadlier than the first in the long-term care sector.
In a recently released transcript, the doctors say the province “chose” not to hire thousands of additional long-term care staff, or place infection-control practitioners in homes, as officials in Quebec did.
They say while Ontario was better prepared for the second wave, the province didn’t do enough because it mistakenly believed the problems present in the first wave had been resolved.
“I don’t think we could have fixed wave two, I think the issues were too big to be solved in that four-month period,” McGeer told the panel.
“But I also think that there were a number of things that we chose not to do, because pretty much everybody got fooled into thinking that it was going to be OK in the second wave,” she said.