Province Takes Further Measures to Expand Hospital Capacity and Health Human Resources

Published on April 24, 2021

Ontario supporting transfers to long-term care homes


News Release

TORONTO — The Ontario government is responding to the recent rapid rise in hospitalizations with measures that will add capacity to the health care system.

"The third wave of COVID-19 is putting unprecedented pressure on Ontario's hospitals, requiring immediate action," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. "My ministry is working with our partners at the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health to help create more critical care capacity in hospitals — while protecting the safety and security of long-term care residents and staff."

The province is making changes to encourage alternate level of care patients in hospitals who are waiting for a long-term care home placement to accept a placement in a home that may not be their preferred choice. Ontario is waiving co-payments for these patients until they can be transferred to a home of their choice. In addition, patients who accept these placements will maintain priority status on the waitlist for their preferred home.

Rules regarding admissions and transfers have also been updated in Directive 3 for Long-Term Care:

  • For fully immunized residents with a negative laboratory-based test at the time of admission or transfer, no isolation is required.
  • For partially immunized or unimmunized residents, a laboratory-based test is required at the time of admission or transfer, and the resident must isolate for a minimum of 10 days (reduced from 14 days) subject to a negative laboratory test taken on Day 8.

To help ensure appropriate levels of care for current and new or returning residents, the government has amended orders O.Reg 158/20 Limiting Work to a Single Retirement Home and O.Reg 146/20 Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home to exempt fully immunized long-term care home and retirement home employees from restrictions that prohibit them from working in more than one home, or in another heath care setting. The government is also providing Ontario Health and Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) the authority to redeploy staff to long-term care homes and retirement homes to facilitate and support placements.


Quick Facts

  • The government has made $15.2 billion available to support Ontario’s frontline health care heroes and protect people from COVID-19. This includes supporting 141 hospitals and health care facilities, and 626 long-term care homes since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Based on the latest modelling data, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are continuing to increase rapidly and are now at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The Science Advisory Table projects that the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU will reach 1,100 and ~1,200 acute care COVID admissions by May 1st.
  • As of April 19th, there are 4,419 ALC patients in hospitals, of whom 1,912 are waiting for a space in a long-term care home. As of April 14th, there are 5,401 long-term care home spaces available for new residents.
  • A Better Place to Live; A Better Place to Work: Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan aims to improve working conditions for existing staff, drive effective and accountable leadership, and implement retention strategies to make long-term care a better place for residents to live and a better place for staff to work.

Quotes

"Our member homes want to do all they can to assist in the current crisis facing Ontario’s hospitals. What is most important right now is that health sector partners continue to work together to safeguard and protect Ontarians. Long-term care homes worked tirelessly fighting COVID-19 and are now in a better position than in Waves 1 and 2 with most having high rates of resident and staff vaccination. We support today’s announcement with regards to staffing and isolation as it will assist long-term care homes to open up more beds to safely care for seniors."

- Lisa Levin
CEO AdvantAge Ontario

"Four months ago, the government prioritized vaccinations for long-term care residents, and then staff. The vaccines saved lives. Allowing fully vaccinated staff to work at more than one home, and ensuring home and community care staff are redeployed into long-term care, will also help to alleviate staffing shortages and allow more homes to take additional residents from overwhelmed hospitals."

- Donna Duncan
CEO Ontario Long-Term Care Association


Additional Resources