Canadian News Jun 24, 2020 5:44 PM EST

Ontario will fully fund nursing homes regardless of lower occupancies

Long-term care facilities are receiving full funding from the province for the remainder of 2020 despite mandated reduced occupancy rates.

Ontario will fully fund nursing homes regardless of lower occupancies
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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Long-term care facilities are receiving full funding from the province for the remainder of 2020 despite low occupancy rates, due to the pandemic, reports The Globe and Mail.

Empty beds in Ontario nursing homes are being paid for by the Ontario government while new residents are only allowed one roommate, which raises concerns about waiting lists for long-term care homes.

This month, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, David Williams issued a directive that prevents long-term care facilities from admitting new residents or bringing back former residents to ward rooms, which are shared by three or four people. Current ward room residents are not affected by the order.

Over 1,800 long-term care residents in Ontario have died as a result of coronavirus. Homes with active outbreaks cannot currently take in new residents to avoid further spread of the virus.

Donna Duncan, chief executive of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association says they support the ban on adding residents to ward rooms, adding that homes with more beds per room were hit hardest by the virus.

“We saw a crisis in the making,” she said.

Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton's spokesperson, Gillian Sloggett said the funding is “in recognition of the impact of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Sloggett said that because of the June 10 order, funding will cover empty beds. There is $180.80 per day or $65,992 a year provided for each resident.

“As Minister Fullerton has shared on a number of occasions, ward rooms and congestion have amplified the person-to-person and asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in our long-term care homes, badly exacerbating this crisis,” she noted.

“These are long-standing structural and capacity issues that, coupled with a severe staffing shortage that predates the virus, have led to the tragedy we have seen in our homes.”

Innis Ingram’s mother resides at a Mississauga facility that has lost 68 people to the virus in its 236-bed home. He believes that for-profit corporations should not be receiving full funding while having fewer residents to look after.

“It certainly doesn’t seem right,” he said.

Duncan noted that limiting single bed and double bed rooms will make the long-term care bed shortage in Ontario much worse as there were already 36,000 people waiting for rooms before the pandemic began.

The Ontario Long-Term Care Association says that the new admission ban will take away about 4,303 beds—5.5 percent on Ontario’s total.

“We are worried about a second wave,” Ms. Duncan said. “Both long-term care and hospitals could see surges.”

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