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PM vows support for provinces after report into troubling conditions at long-term care facilities

Last Updated May 27, 2020 at 10:15 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

Justin Trudeau says he'll be speaking with premiers about concerns at long-term care facilities

The discussion will come days after a horrific report into conditions at five Ontario facilities was released

Concerns have also been raised at Quebec facilities

OTTAWA – The prime minister says he will be speaking with premiers about fixing problems at long-term care facilities, but stopped short of saying the federal government would take control away from provinces.

This comes after a report was released outlining “horrific” conditions at facilities in Ontario, and concerns being raised in Quebec.

Saying we need to do better as a country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’ll be having a call with the premiers on Thursday.

“I will, once again, offer our government’s support as they try to get the situation under control,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, we need to do a better job of caring for seniors. They raised us, they built this country — they deserve better.”

However, Trudeau won’t say at this point how he will support the premiers. He is not ruling out more funding or a national inquiry into long-term care.

The immediate focus will be on getting help to those who need it, he says, adding there will also be discussions about long-term solutions.

“Those need to be had, because coming out of this pandemic and into the future, we need to make sure we’re doing a better job of supporting our seniors, and the federal government is there to work with the provinces while respecting their jurisdiction,” he explains.

The report on Ontario released on Tuesday outlines concerns ranging from hygiene issues to cockroach infestations at five specific homes where the military has been deployed. A report on Quebec facilities released Wednesday is less critical, but still describes inadequate staffing and personal protective equipment, as well as COVID-19 patients mixing with others.

Trudeau, who has seen the report, has called it “deeply disturbing.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling for an end to for-profit long term care in Canada, new national standards, and he has written to the public safety minister about bringing in the Mounties to investigate.

Four of the five homes in Ontario’s report are private, but Premier Doug Ford said on Tuesday there are 626 long-term care facilities in the province, and that they shouldn’t all be painted with a broad brush. He suggested creating a fully-public system wouldn’t be feasible without help from Ottawa.

Trudeau’s comments come as MPs hold their first meeting in the House of Commons under a new hybrid system of in-person and video conferencing.

-With files from 680 NEWS