Ontario's expected budget does not anticipate another extreme shutdown: Finance minister
Politicians, advocates and public health officials were ringing the alarm Thursday over COVID-19's impact on long-term care homes, as new modelling out of Ontario projected the virus will spread at a more gentle rate than feared.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul urged a national inquiry on long-term care in Canada and said the first thing that should be done is for Ottawa to add long-term care to the Canada Health Act.
Paul, who has said she couldn't visit her father before he died from a non-COVID infection in a long-term care home in May, said the pandemic has just proven how broken and inadequate the system is.
"If we have arrived at a situation where we need to call in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Red Cross, which is a humanitarian organization that is normally deployed in war zones and in developing countries," she said.
"If we have to deploy those two bodies in order to save lives in our long term care facilities across Canada, then there is a serious problem."
Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, said she wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau June 3 to ask for federal cash for capital improvements and human resources before the second wave of COVID-19.
She said she got a perfunctory response from a policy office at Health Canada just six days ago, with more than 100 outbreaks in long-term care homes across the country again.
Duncan said the system needs dedicated federal help along the lines of what was offered in 2017 for mental health and home care.
Authorities in Quebec said there are five long-term care homes where more than 25 per cent of residents have active cases of COVID-19 -- down from eight care homes the day before.
They say there are six private seniors residences where more than a quarter of residents have active infections, a situation they describe as "critical."
Quebec reported 1,030 new cases and 25 more deaths in Thursday's update.
As of Monday, there were 44 active and 42 resolved cases of COVID-19 among residents of the Parkview Place Long Term Care Home in Winnipeg, according to for-profit operator Revera. At least 19 have died.
Manitoba chief medical officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday the province is not looking to take control of the home.
"It's a matter of ensuring all of the recommendations of infection control experts, all of the regional recommendations are being adhered to."
Manitoba announced 193 new COVID-19 cases in Thursday's update, a record daily high.
Roussin has said many cases in the recent surge have been linked to people gathering for dinners and other social occasions, and greater restrictions may be in store if the numbers don't drop.
Also Thursday, new projections in Ontario suggested the province appears to be moving away from the worst-case scenario in COVID-19 growth.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory table, said advisers estimate a "steady state level" of between 800 and 1,200 new cases a day for "a while."
"Most indicators are showing a slowing growth in COVID-19 cases. The trajectory appears to be moving away from the worst case, but cases are continuing to climb," Brown told a news conference."
"And so this is not that we've crested and are now coming back down the other side of the epidemic curve. We are just getting to a slower period of growth within that curve."
Projections released late last month showed the province recording 1,000 new daily cases by mid-October. Ontario passed that threshold once last weekend but the numbers have since dropped.
Ontario reported 10 COVID-19 deaths and 934 new infections on Thursday.
Meanwhile, 46 infections have now been linked to a wedding in a Toronto suburb earlier this month.
York Region Public Health said more than 100 people attended the wedding at an event centre in Vaughan over two days -- Oct. 14, and Oct. 18. The region's deputy medical officer of health said charges are possible.
The majority of the cases -- 33, as of Thursday -- were in Peel Region, west of Toronto. Others were in York Region and Toronto, as well as farther-flung areas such as Waterloo and Simcoe-Muskoka.