Peterborough County councillors have agreed to send a request to the province to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing into long-term care facilities across the province to test residents and staff.
The motion brought forward by Sherry Senis, deputy mayor of Selwyn Township, will be sent to both the federal and provincial governments and health officials further requesting they commit to vaccinating all long-term care residents, retirement and other congregate senior living facilities by Feb. 15.
While the province has already made the Feb. 15 commitment, Senis said council members would be reiterating that commitment by supporting the motion.
“Health Canada has yet to approve the rapid COVID testing for widespread use. Once this is done, we ask the province to deploy the testing into long term care facilities. At this time, Fairhaven is on a pilot project for the testing,” she said.
During their special virtual council meeting held on Thursday, Senis said the pandemic has put a spotlight on long-term care homes across the province with devastating results for family members.
“As of this week, over 3,000 (Ontario long-term care) residents have died, along with 10 staff. Every day we hear about another outbreak in a long-term care home,” she said.
“As I’m a board member of Fairhaven, I felt it appropriate to bring forward this motion with the executive director, Lionel Towns supports.”
The motion also requests the federal and provincial governments provide sufficient emergency funds to hire adequate staff, provide training and continue to enhance long term care wages, similar to what Quebec has done.
“Quebec has done a massive hiring of staff and trained them for their long-term care homes and their numbers have decreased substantially as a result. In Ontario, we should be following suit and pay the staff accordingly,” Senis said.
The Peterborough census metropolitan area has the second largest proportion of seniors living in Canada’s 34 census metropolitan areas, she said.
“Many of them are vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves. County council represents a large swath in Peterborough County and I feel it would be appropriate for us to support the recommendations and send them forward. We have a voice and I can’t think of a better reason than this to use it,” Senis said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP Phillip Lawrence, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot, Premier Doug Ford, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini, Long-Term Care Minister Merilee Fullerton, the City of Peterborough, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus will all receive a copy of the motion.
Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com
Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner