Coronavirus: Nothing ‘off the table’ in solving long-term care crisis, Trudeau says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday he’s “not taking anything off the table” when it comes to addressing shortcomings in Canada’s long-term care homes, but stayed tight-lipped on whether he thinks there should be a national inquiry into the state of the challenged system.

The prime minister’s comments follow the release of two Canadian military reports about the challenges and conditions soldiers observed in Ontario and Quebec long-term care homes hard-hit by COVID-19.

READ MORE: Quebec long-term care homes grappling with major challenges: military report

When asked by a journalist whether he thinks there needs to be a national inquiry into long-term care facilities, Trudeau said the federal government’s focus is providing immediate assistance at this point in the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I think right now, while we’re in this crisis, our responsibility is to respond to this crisis as best we can and to ensure that we’re improving in the [COVID-19] context care as best we can,” the prime minister said, adding the country “absolutely” needs to have “conversations about how we care for our elders” in the long-term.

Trudeau said those conversations will “be held at the appropriate time.”

Later, the prime minister added in French that he’s “not taking anything off the table” but that he will “respect provincial jurisdiction … as they try to regain control over their system.”

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces wrote two separate reports documenting what they observed in long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec, respectively, that they delivered to federal officials earlier this month.

READ MORE: Military teams raise concerns about conditions at Ontario care homes

The Ontario report, the details of which were first reported by Global News on Tuesday, described abuse and neglect, among other allegations, at five long-term care facilities in the province. Ontario Premier Doug Ford released the report to public later that afternoon.

The Quebec government released the military report about its homes on Wednesday morning. The 60-page report points to three major challenges in the facilities: staffing shortages, management of personal protective equipment and how hot zones related to the novel coronavirus are handled.

-With a file from Kalina Laframboise

More to come

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