Ontario launches commission on long-term care homes

Ontario Premier Doug Ford addresses the media on long-term care, as Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton and Minister of Health Christine Elliott look on, May 26, 2020. Image provided by Premier of Ontario/YouTube

The provincial government has created a commission to keep COVID-19 outbreaks from flaring up again in long-term care homes.

In his daily news briefing from Queens Park Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford announced a three-member commission to investigate the connection between these homes and the coronavirus. The commission was created just as the premier announced the lowest number of new cases reported in Ontario since mid-March.

“We’re on the right path, and nowhere is that progress more clear than in our long-term care homes,” said Ford. “Nearly all of our homes have stabilized. We have completed proactive testing in every home at least time, and as of June 18, family members have been able to reunite with their loved ones.”

The commission will be chaired by Ontario Associate Chief Justice Frank N. Marrocco, who sits on the Superior Court of Justice. The other members are Angela Coke, a former senior executive of the Ontario Public Service, and Dr. Jack Kitts, retired president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital.

The trio will investigate how COVID-19 was spread in long-term care homes, how people associated with the homes were affected, and the effectiveness of measures designed to stop the spread of the virus.

Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton expects the investigation to be completed within months rather than years.

“The people of Ontario deserve a timely, transparent and non-partisan investigation.┬áThat is why our government is launching this independent commission to help us identify ways to prevent the future spread of disease in Ontario’s long-term care homes,” said Fullerton. “I look forward to receiving their report and recommendations to make Ontario’s long-term care homes a better place for our most vulnerable seniors to live and receive the care they deserve.”

A final report from the commission is expected by April 2021.