TORONTO – Premier Doug Ford is defending his minister of long-term care amid calls for her resignation after a scathing report found Ontario’s nursing homes were neglected and unprepared for a pandemic.
Ford says he takes ultimate responsibility for the tragedies in long-term care and promised to fix the system.
NEW- Ford on the long-term care situation says “This will never happen again” “I’ll defend my minister all day long because the leader of the opposition wasn’t on the calls” pic.twitter.com/sMjo7ksW7Y
— Richard Southern (@richard680news) May 5, 2021
He says he still has faith in Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, who has said the government is taking action to address problems in the sector.
His comments come nearly a week after the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission issued its report calling for an overhaul of the sector.
Opposition politicians expressed doubts on Thursday whether Ford or Fullerton have committed to necessary moves that would improve the system.
They noted that the government hasn’t committed to changes like permanent wage increases for personal support workers or other recommendations in the report.
NDP Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said it was disappointing to hear Ford defend the minister.
As of Thursday, the province reported that 3,761 long-term care resident deaths and 11 staff had died from COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Ontario said it would be loosening pandemic restrictions placed on long-term care homes as vaccination rates rise.
The new rules will now mean homes can safely resume communal dining, indoor events and gatherings.
The province says once the current stay-at-home order is lifted, it will issue further direction that allows social and temporary outings for fully vaccinated residents.
Ford, who returned to the legislature for the first time in weeks today, took to Twitter on Tuesday night renewing calls for the federal government to tighten border restrictions.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair responded to the calls from Ford and other Conservatives, saying in order to “win the fight against COVID-19, we need to stop community spread.”