Through funding provided by the federal government, Canadian Red Cross teams are providing short-term support to an additional 20 long-term care and retirement homes in Ontario. They will assist with ongoing efforts to keep residents, staff and caregivers safe in homes facing significant challenges due to COVID-19.

Today’s announcement is an expansion of the province’s existing partnership with the federal government for seven long-term care homes. It will see the Canadian Red Cross’s support expanded to include retirement homes and will continue until at least the end of March 2021.

The Canadian Red Cross will assist each home with their individual needs. In addition to supporting the improvement of infection prevention and control measures, they may also help with daily living activities such as the delivery of meals, housekeeping and light cleaning duties. Resident Support Aides will also continue to socialize and engage with residents so that the home’s frontline workers can continue to focus on providing direct quality care to residents.

“Combatting COVID-19 has required all levels of government to work together, and by expanding our partnership with the Canadian Red Cross we will be able to better protect and care for our most vulnerable,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “To further improve care, we have developed a comprehensive staffing plan which sets out actions to hire more staff, improve working conditions for existing staff, drive effective and accountable leadership, and implement retention strategies.”

Conditions at long-term care homes and across the province continue to be monitored and tracked daily. The Ontario government will work closely with the Canadian Red Cross to determine which homes would benefit most from their assistance and what supports are most helpful. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with all involved parties.

“As all regions of Canada continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government will continue to be there, in lock step with provinces and territories to provide support where it is needed most. We will continue to provide support to provinces and territories to use the Red Cross to bolster their COVID-19 response efforts,” said the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “Our nation’s seniors deserve to be safe, respected, and live in dignity, and we will be there for them and for their families during this difficult time.”

“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges not seen for generations. Together, we can push back against this terrible pandemic, and protect our most vulnerable,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “We appreciate all Ontarians, and indeed all Canadians, who are stepping up to keep our seniors safe.”

“The impacts of COVID-19 continue to put the most vulnerable at risk. The Red Cross is committed to providing expertise and support to staff and residents in long-term care and retirement homes in Ontario,” said Tanya Elliott, Vice President, Ontario at the Canadian Red Cross. “We are continuing to build our capacity to continue to be ready to provide this vital assistance to communities most in need. The Red Cross is recruiting for a variety of positions and encourage Canadians who wish to make a difference to apply.”

Assistance from the Canadian Red Cross works hand-in-hand with other measures Ontario has taken on behalf of long-term care residents and staff, including investments of over $780 million in emergency funding, regulatory flexibility, expanded testing, direction and guidance on outbreak management, and infection prevention and control.

Additionally, the government has released A Better Place to Live; A Better Place to Work: Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan  which delivers on an historic commitment to increase hours of daily direct care to four hours per day for each long-term care resident. To support the plan the province is investing up to $1.9 billion annually by 2024-25 to create more than 27,000 new positions for personal support workers, registered nurses and registered practical nurses.