Long-term care homes will be held accountable for resident deaths: Ford

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In a COVID-19 update today, Premier Doug Ford vowed that long-term care homes will be held accountable for the number of deaths that have occurred in them during the pandemic.

Ford responded to the issue this afternoon when asked about the total number of deaths that have occurred in long-term care homes in Ontario, as well as a possible link between for-profits homes and higher death rates.

"Let me be very, very clear: I'm not supporting bad actors," Ford said. "I'm holding these people accountable. When we get through this whole process and find out exactly what happened in these homes, there's going to be accountability."

"There's going to be accountability for the people we've lost, there's going to be accountability for the companies that let this happen."

Ford added that there's "absolutely no excuse" for the homes' residents to be treated how they were, referencing a damning military report last month that exposed inadequate living conditions in some of Ontario's long-term care homes.

"They'll be held accountable and I'm not protecting any of those bad actors," Ford said.

Ontario has now marked three months since declaring a state of emergency due to COVID-19 back in March.

"Three months ago, our government made the difficult, but necessary decision to enact a provincial Declaration of Emergency in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, closing down non-essential businesses and limiting organized public events and social gatherings," the premier said. "It marked the beginning of one of the darkest periods in our province's history."

"Our government, joined by thousands of frontline health care workers, volunteers, businesses, and the 14.5 million people who call this province home, rallied immediately to stop the spread of COVID-19. The collective call to action was inspiring, but as we all know, it has been a long and difficult road with losses far greater than anyone could have imagined."

According to Minister of Health Christine Elliott, the province is seeing clear signs of progress against COVID-19 -- for the fourth day in a row, Ontario has reported fewer than 200 new cases, and for more than a week, the province has added more resolved than new cases.

While the province has not yet been able to confirm if students will be allowed to return to school this September, Education Minister Stephen Lecce is expected to provide more information at a later date, and Ford said the government will work with teacher's unions to ensure older teachers and school staff who are more at risk of the virus will have not to lose their jobs when schools reopen.

The province is also calling for more funding from the federal government to support Ontario during the pandemic, particularly with healthcare-related costs.

"As we work to find a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, we must remain ready for any scenario," Ford said.

"Our province alone faces up to $23 billion in additional cost pressures related to health care, protecting our most vulnerable seniors, and supporting our municipal partners in delivering critical services. Ottawa must come to the table with serious commitments to funding support."

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