COVID-19 shows need for long-term-care reform but solve crisis first, Trudeau says

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he plans to discuss conditions in long-term care facilities with Canada's premiers in light of reports of neglect and abuse of seniors in facilities in Quebec and Ontario.

Trudeau says the immediate priority is ensuring seniors living in these centres are getting proper care as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage.

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He said he is open to having conversations about larger changes that might be necessary to improve elder care across Canada, but he does not wish to "short circuit" those conversations with"aggressive proposals" right now.

Everything is on the table as part of those discussions, Trudeau said, but he also stressed that he respects and recognize that provinces have jurisdiction over delivery of long-term care.

Trudeau was reacting to a report from the Canadian Forces that detailed conditions they found in five long-term care homes in Ontario, as well as a similar report released this morning on nursing homes in Quebec.

The military found people left in filth for weeks, others left on the floor where they had fallen, cockroach infestations, people choking while being improperly fed, patients with brutal pressure sores, and seniors pleading for help for hours to no avail.

Allegations also included failure to isolate COVID-19-positive patients from the rest of the homes and a host of hygiene issues.

Trudeau called the report "extremely troubling" and promised that the federal government will do whatever it can to help provinces improve conditions, while respecting their sole jurisdiction over long-term care facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.

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