The provincial government announced Tuesday that it is spending $20 million this year to hire 193 new inspections staff and launch a proactive inspections program in Ontario’s long-term care homes.
Proactive inspections were all but stopped by the province before the pandemic, as a CBC News investigation showed that only nine out of 626 homes in Ontario actually received so-called “resident quality inspections” in 2019.
The long-term care sector was devastated by COVID-19, with a Canadian Armed Forces report revealing major problems in facilities meant to care for some of the province’s most vulnerable residents.
The province says this new spending will double the number of long-term care inspectors in Ontario by the fall of 2022, with a ratio of one inspector for every two homes. That means, according to a news release, that there will be enough inspectors to proactively visit each home every year, while also continuing inspections on a complaints basis.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, long-term care Minister Rod Phillips said this step will give Ontario the “best inspections regime” in Canada.
“We’re acting on the advice received from the long-term care commission, the auditor general and Ontarians who have seen firsthand the problems in long-term care,” he said.
WATCH | Long-term care minister asked why province reinstated proactive inspections after scrapping them:
Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, said in a statement after the announcement that the association is pleased to see that the province intends to use results from inspections to help identify resources to help support staff in the sector.
“Inspections, as they are today, must change so they can deliver quality of care and life outcomes that Ontario’s long-term care residents expect and deserve,” Duncan said.
“Ontario’s long-term care homes share the Ontario Government’s commitment to accountability and transparency, and remain steadfast that enshrining these principles in legislation is necessary to build the confidence required to transform the system to meet the wishes and needs of Ontarians as they age.”
7-day average continues to slide
Meanwhile, the province also reported 269 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Of those, 176 cases were found in people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status, while 93 were found in people who have had both shots.
The seven-day average for cases, which levels out peaks and valleys in the data, continued October’s downward trend, and now stands at 364.
There are also 233 people who have been hospitalized with the virus. Of those, 203 are either not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.
Similarly, there are 138 people in ICU with COVID-19, with 121 of those cases being people who aren’t fully vaccinated or have an unknown status.
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:
New school-related cases: 150, including 140 students and 10 staff. As of yesterday, two of Ontario’s 4,844 public schools (roughly 0.04 per cent) were closed due to COVID-19.
Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 138, with 88 needing a ventilator to breathe.
Active cases: 3,051.
Vaccinations: The province administered 18,428 doses of COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. Just under 84 per cent per cent of eligible Ontarians, those aged 12 and older, have now had two doses of vaccine.