Conversations ‘need to be had’ over long-term care but PM won’t commit to inquiry

Military reports detail conditions of long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conversation with the provinces “need to be had” following a second military report detailing disturbing conditions in long-term care facilities.

From lack of personnel to disregard for physical distancing and personal protective equipment, the prime minister said the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report on the state of 25 facilities in Quebec was “troubling.”

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But Trudeau would not commit to launching an inquiry into the matter, instead saying he was committed to supporting provinces amid the pandemic.

“We respect the provincial responsibility to get these situations under control,” Trudeau said Wednesday (May 27) during his daily media briefing outside his home in Ottawa.

Long-term care facilities fall under provincial jurisdiction and the prime minister said the federal government would continue to provide help, such as through the deployment of military members in Ontario and Quebec to assist at these facilities.

“Our focus right now is on making sure that we’re doing everything we can right now to help during this particular situation but, of course, going forward Canadians want to see us doing better by our elders,” he said, adding that the deployment of the CAF to facilities is not a long-term solution to the matter.

Trudeau would not say whether more health transfers directed at the provinces to address long-term care facilities are in the cards.

Instead, he plans to speak to premiers Friday during their weekly teleconference about the next steps to address the issues raised in the CAF reports.

On Tuesday the Ontario government released to the public a CAF report on conditions in five of the province’s long-term care facilities where military members have been assisting.

Quebec followed suit the following day after receiving a CAF report on conditions at facilities within its borders.

The Ontario report detailed allegations of neglect, including lack of meals for residents and the presence of insects.

Trudeau acknowledged the challenges facing long-term care facilities extends beyond where the Canadian military has been deployed to assist.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has been pushing for an in-person G7 summit with world leaders.

Trudeau said an in-person event would be better than holding a virtual event but said he would be deferring to the advice of health experts before committing to attending a G7 summit in the U.S.

He said considerations would have to be made, such as the requirement for all travellers returning to Canada to quarantine for two weeks.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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