TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, issued the following statement regarding Ontario's older adults in response to COVID-19:
"The health and wellness of seniors is of the utmost importance to our government. That is why yesterday Premier Doug Ford announced a $5 million investment to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.
We would like to reassure all Ontarians that the province has been diligently monitoring the developing situation in all: long-term care facilities, retirement and seniors' homes. The health, wellbeing and safety of all Ontarians is paramount to our government.
In order to ensure a safe, healthy and secure environment for residents, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has recommended that licensed retirement homes only allow essential visitors—people visiting residents who are very ill or require end-of-life care—until further notice. Licensed retirement homes will continue to actively screen essential visitors and staff before they enter the home.
It is recommended that no other visitors should be permitted to enter these premises. Instead, they should be asked to keep in touch with loved ones by phone or other technologies, as available.
This recommendation was not made lightly.
We recognize visits provide important social connections and improvements to quality of life for many residents and families may feel frustration, sadness and even anger considering this change. However, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and well-being of Ontarians—especially retirement home residents who may be more vulnerable to such diseases, as well as their families and staff—is our number one priority.
During this extraordinary time, it is as important as ever to be aware of all our older Ontarians and people with disabilities who may be vulnerable to social isolation. We encourage everyone to check in on elderly family members, people with disabilities and neighbours in your community with a phone or video call. We also encourage those who are able to help with errands such as picking up groceries for those who should remain at home and self isolate."
Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
For individuals with loved ones living in a retirement home with questions regarding this procedure, please contact the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority at 1-855-ASK-RHRA or at [email protected].