The minister of long-term care lashed a personal attack to wrap up Ontario’s COVID-19 briefing at Queen’s Park on Tuesday.
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton was responding to a question about what more could be done about COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes; in particular, would the military be called in.
“I’ll just say how disgusting it is to see the opposition, the NDP, Andrea Horwath, using misinformation to create anxiety and fear amongst staff in long-term care homes,” Fullerton asserted.
Fullerton says it’s only a small number of homes that have a major outbreak, beyond the strict definition of what an outbreak is defined as.
She also says the Ford government has moved lightning fast in helping those homes.
3,200 long-term care residents have died.
What’s “disgusting” is Minister Fullerton downplaying this crisis.
I want the helping hands of Canadian Armed Forces members sent into hard-hit homes to ease the struggle without delay. https://t.co/DoRwwW8lOq
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) January 19, 2021
In response, Horwath tells 680 NEWS the Ford government is resorting to personal attacks as a result of their failed response to the pandemic.
“When we have over 3,200 people who have died in long-term care as a result of COVID-19, I am just speaking for them and their families,” Horwath said.
“For the minister to downplay the crisis actually devalues those lives.”
Horwath says people were “literally” staging protests with humanitarian crisis unfolding, saying the Ford government simply can’t handle criticism.
“Calling it like it is is the appropriate thing to do,” she added. “…The thing that troubles me is that it still might be a couple of weeks before some homes have their residents and their workers vaccinated and that means more people are going to die.”
According to provincial government statistics, there are currently 254 homes with an outbreak of COVID-19 with 372 that do not.
Roughly 3,200 residents, and 10 staff, have died from the virus.
In another example of back-and-forth between the Ford government and NDP, the Premier’s office says Horwath has been “engaging in a weeks-long disinformation campaign, wrongly claiming that Ontarians do not have access to paid sick leave benefits.”
“Ms. Horwath used a health-care worker at her press conference, who, when asked whether she qualified for the federal paid sick day program, admitted that she hadn’t looked into it,” Ford’s office said in a statement.
“Given Ms. Horwath’s disregard for the facts, we shouldn’t blame the health-care worker.”
On Monday, the Premier said if people aren’t satisfied with paid sick leave benefits, it’s possible a change is in order.