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Long-term care minister responds to scathing report in brief press conference

Ontario Minister of Long Term Care Merrilee Fullerton answers questions during the daily briefing at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Thursday May 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario’s long-term care minister found herself in the spotlight on Monday.

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton was responding to the scathing report by the long-term care commission that shows the Ford Government mismanaged the sector prior to and during the pandemic.

Fullerton, in a brief press conference, was asked directly whether or not her government would apologize and instead turned her attention to previous governments.

“I look back and say why did it take so long, so many years went by without addressing long-term care when we knew there was an aging population, and our government is addressing it. Our government is taking responsibility. It is our government that has a plan for this.

After so many years of neglect from previous governments, why didn’t they do anything. I can’t answer for that.”

The news conference lasted less than half an hour. Fullerton left hastily to head to question period with reporters still trying to ask questions.

Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 commission released their final report last week on how the province and the long-term care sector handled the pandemic.

The 322-page report says following the SARS epidemic of 2003, the province listened to reports calling for an overhaul to their pandemic preparedness plan. “For a time, those warning were heeded,” as the Ontario government prepared for the possibility of a pandemic.

Fullerton responded to the report in a statement last Friday, saying the province would be reviewing the recommendations carefully as they “incorporate them into our ongoing efforts to fix the long-standing issues that have challenged Ontario’s long-term care sector.”

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