TORONTO – Ontario is launching an independent commission into the province’s long-term care system.
Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton says in a statement that the commission will start in September, and in the meantime the government will be finalizing terms of reference, leadership and timelines.
She says “an independent non-partisan commission is the best way to conduct a thorough and expedited review.”
The Ontario Long-Term Care Association, opposition parties and health-care union SEIU have all called for a full public inquiry into the sector.
Nearly 1,400 long-term care residents have died amid COVID-19 outbreaks in the facilities, as well as five staff members.
The number of long-term care homes experiencing an outbreak has grown over the past few weeks, even as the government has imposed increasing restrictions and implemented widespread testing.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s education minister is set to give an update Tuesday on the status of schools and child care centres as some businesses in the province begin to open their doors.
Stephen Lecce’s update comes as the province starts the first stage of its economic reopening, giving the green light to retailers, some sports centres, vehicle dealerships and other businesses to resume.
But the province stresses those businesses still have to comply with public health guidelines such as physical distancing as they welcome customers.
Some business owners have expressed relief and excitement at the prospect of reopening, while others say they feel it’s too early to do so safely.
The province ordered the closure of all businesses deemed non-essential in mid-March and recently allowed those with street entrances to offer curbside pickup.
Ontario reported 304 more cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 22,957.
There have been 1,904 deaths related to the virus in the province so far, including 23 that were reported Monday.
© 2020 The Canadian Press