Canada

Doug Ford's latest coronavirus update: Long-term care report was 'heartbreaking,' 'horrific,' 'gut-wrenching'

Ontario's premier reacted to a report compiled by the Canadian Armed Forces that reveals horrible conditions in several Ontario long-term care homes

This is the full transcript of Doug Ford’s May 26 remarks

Yesterday afternoon, I was briefed on the reports provided by our brave men and women in uniform who are currently working around the clock to stabilize our hardest hit long-term care homes. After being devastated by a serious COVID-19 outbreak, these five homes had reached a crisis situation and that’s why we called in the military for help. We knew these homes were having serious problems and needed help. But until yesterday morning, we didn’t know the full extent of what these homes—what these residents were dealing with.

The reports they provided us were heartbreaking. They were horrific—shocking that this can happen here in Canada. It’s gut-wrenching, and reading those reports was the hardest thing I’ve done as premier, knowing that so much more needs to be done. But what I am feeling, what we all are feeling is little in comparison to the hardship that these residents and their families have had to endure. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless when it comes to protecting a loved one. So please pray for these residents. Please pray for their families.

And as hard as this is for everyone, as hard as it will be to hear some of these details, I believe that the public needs to see these reports. You need to know exactly what I know. You deserve to know what I know as premier. That’s why I ordered these reports to be released in their entirety. Right now, our number one priority remains protecting these residents, continuing to stabilize the conditions in these homes and across the system. Each of these homes has a hospital partner supporting them. These hospitals have stood with us through the darkest days.

The expertise, knowledge and dedication of our hospital partners has been absolutely critical. And we will continue to need our incredible hospitals as we move forward. And thanks to the help of our hospital partners, thanks to the incredible work of our armed forces. Thanks to their sacrifice and dedication, the conditions in these homes is stabilizing, but there’s still so much more work to be done.

I’m calling on the Canadian Forces to extend their current mission for another 30 days. I spoke to General Vance last night and again this morning. I thank the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. Thank you for putting up your hand. Thank you for going into those homes in crisis. And most of all, thank you for bringing these incredibly serious issues to light. I know the public wants answers and I promise you, my commitment to the people of Ontario is that I will get those answers. There’ll be accountability. There’ll be justice for these residents and their families.

As soon as we received these reports, we launched a full investigation into these allegations. This includes an investigation by Ontario’s chief corner. The results of these investigations will be shared with police to look into any possible criminal charges. And I will also make the results of these investigations public. Because we all want answers, we need answers. That is why I ordered these records to be released in their entirety so you can see what I’ve seen so you can fully understand what I understand that we must change the system.

This tragedy must serve as a wake-up call to our entire country. And it’s no secret that COVID-19, has taken a system with deep problems. A system that is being neglected for years and pushed to the brink. COVID-19 has exposed the deep, deep cracks in long term care system. And it’s up to us now to fix these problems. It is up to us to face the hard truths that have been ignored for decades and from our first day in office, we got to work by fixing a broken system. Fixing a system that has suffered from decades of neglect takes time and it takes massive resources and billions of dollars. But we know that we must do better as a province, that we must do better as a country, because this isn’t a problem that is unique to Ontario.

As Canadians, we must protect those who cannot protect themselves. I spoke to the Prime Minister this morning. I thanked him again for the support of the Canadian Forces. I told him that after reading this report, now more than ever, it is clear there is a need, we must work together. The Prime Minister offered his full support and I am grateful for the Prime Minister’s commitment to working with us to solve this problem because we need their help, if we’re going to fix this broken system. A system with hundreds of facilities, tens of thousands of residents and workers, we can’t do it alone. We need the federal government at the table as a funding partner. And today, I’m calling on the Prime Minister—support us as we move forward. Help us fix this problem. We can’t fix it alone. No province can fix it alone. As Canadians, we need to protect these residents.

My friends, you should expect nothing less as a province. We should expect nothing less as a country. We should expect nothing less. And as your premier, I expect nothing less. I will do everything in my power. I will move heaven and earth to do what is right to help these people. To help those who need us. That is our job. It is our responsibility. And we will stop at nothing less. Thank you. And God bless the people of Ontario.