COVID-19 is something that we are all going to have to face together. Our primary concern is the health and safety of Ontarians.
We hope you are staying safe and healthy.
Thank you to all the province’s essential services workers and those on the front-line. You step up everyday to ensure individuals, families and seniors have what they need to stay safe and healthy.
Thank you to everyone else who is staying home and practicing physical distancing.
It is important to listen to the advice of Public Health experts:
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoid contact with people who are sick
- Practice social-distancing
- Stay home if you’re not feeling well
- If you are concerned or suspect you have the virus, call
Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 or
Ottawa Public Health: 613-580-6744
New as of May 27
The Ontario government continues to protect the health and safety of the public during the COVID-19 outbreak by extending all emergency orders in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Current emergency orders include the closure of outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, public swimming pools and outdoor water facilities, as well as bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery. Additionally, there continues to be restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules remain in place for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women’s shelters.
The following emergency orders have been extended until June 9, 2020:
- Closure of Establishments
- Prohibiting Organized Public Events, Certain Gatherings
- Work Deployment Measures for Health Care Workers
- Drinking Water Systems and Sewage Works
- Electronic Service
- Work Deployment Measures in Long-Term Care Homes
- Closure of Places of Non-Essential Businesses
- Traffic Management
- Streamlining Requirements for Long-Term Care Homes
- Prohibition on Certain Persons Charging Unconscionable Prices for Necessary Goods
- Closure of Outdoor Recreational Amenities
- Enforcement of Orders
- Work Deployment Measures for Boards of Health
- Work Deployment Measures in Retirement Homes
- Access to COVID-19 Status Information by Specified Persons
- Service Agencies Providing Services and Supports to Adults with Developmental Disabilities
- Pickup and Delivery of Cannabis
- Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney
- Use of Force and Firearms in Policing Services
- Child Care Fees
- Agreements Between Health Service Providers and Retirement Homes
- Temporary Health or Residential Facilities
- Closure of Public Lands for Recreational Camping
- Work Deployment Measures for Service Agencies Providing Violence Against Women Residential Services and Crisis Line Services
- Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home
- Work Deployment Measures for District Social Services Administration Boards
- Deployment of Employees of Service Provider Organizations
- Work Deployment Measures for Municipalities
- Limiting Work to a Single Retirement Home
- Work Deployment Measures for Mental Health and Addictions Agencies
- Congregate Care Settings
- Access to Personal Health Information by Means of the Electronic Health Record
- Certain Persons Enabled to Issue Medical Certificates of Death
- Hospital Credentialing Processes
- Education Sector
- Management of Long-term Care Homes in Outbreak
The following orders have also been extended:
- Electricity Price for RPP Consumers (until May 31, 2020)
- Global Adjustment for Market Participants and Consumers (until June 1, 2020)
Government deploying inspection teams to long-term care homes, starting process to take over management of five long-term care homes
The Ministry of Long-Term Care has deployed long-term care inspection teams to conduct comprehensive, detailed inspections at high-risk long-term care homes over the next 21 days. At the same time, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has started the process of appointing temporary management at Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Altamont Care Community, Orchard Villa, and Camilla Care Community. Further, the recently announced independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system will now begin its work in July 2020.
Starting tomorrow, long-term care inspectors will be assessing six homes including those captured in the CAF reports and any reports previously filed regarding critical incidents in those homes. Six teams of two long-term care inspectors will go into each of the homes to do an expanded, stringent inspection process over a two-week period. The six homes being inspected include Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Orchard Villa, Altamont Care Community, Camilla Care Community, and Holland Christian Homes Inc.
The teams will develop a customized inspection plan based on the details outlined in the CAF report. Their inspections will include record and chart reviews; in-depth interviews with staff and residents; and observations in order to determine the extent of the issues. The inspectors will follow a rigorous and consistent inspection methodology for all inspections.
After an inspection is completed in a high-risk home, the ministry will set up regular status calls, monitoring, as well as regular unannounced in-person follow up inspections with the home. Results of these and all other inspections will be posted publicly on the ministry website.
The government is also inspecting other long-term care homes that are currently considered high-risk over the next 21 days. Additionally, working with hospital and other partners, each of these homes will be required to submit a plan for the ministry that details how they intend to return to acceptable levels of care immediately.
Allegations such as the ones contained in the CAF report triggers the Ministry of Long-Term Care to share its findings with other agencies which may result in:
- Police investigations and potential criminal charges
- Ministry of Labour inspections into worker health and safety, given the lack of training observed
- Public health inspections into food preparation, etc.
- Referrals to professional colleges for practice standard violations, given medication management and care observations
During this unprecedented time, inspectors will continue to be deployed to ensure all homes are compliant with the Long-Term Care Homes Act. When the ministry receives any information from any source, it is immediately triaged. Where there is high or moderate risk to residents, a risk level is assigned and inspections are conducted in the home, regardless of its outbreak status.
The government’s priority is protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians, especially long-term care residents who are among Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors. The government will continue to explore every opportunity to provide further support to long-term care partners as the situation evolves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global search for therapies to treat, diagnose, mitigate or prevent the infection. Before new therapies can be made available to Canadians, they must be shown to be safe and effective, and clinical trials are a critical part of that process.
To date, Health Canada has approved 37 clinical trials for potential COVID-19 therapies and vaccines. To accelerate these efforts, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, has authorized the following change for a more flexible process for clinical trials related to COVID-19, without compromising the safety of participants or the reliability of trials’ findings:
- Allow a wider range of health professionals, such as nurse practitioners, to be involved in running clinical trials. Under current regulations, only physicians and dentists can conduct clinical trials for drugs;
- Allow a wider range of investigators, such as physicians, to be involved in running clinical trials for medical devices. Under current regulations, only manufacturers can conduct clinical trials for medical devices;
- Reduce the burden associated with labelling and record-keeping requirements for clinical trials involving drugs that are already marketed for other indications and are being studied to treat COVID-19;
- Enable multiple-stream clinical trials to continue even when one stream has been stopped; and
- Enable more clinical trials by allowing trials where direct interaction with the participant is not feasible, for example when participants who live in remote locations are unable to travel.
I am saddened, disturbed and concerned about what was reported in the Canadian Armed Forces report (OP Laser – JTFC Observations in long-term care facilities in Ontario). I am supportive of the Ontario government’s immediate action to investigate further in long-term care homes (LTCH) across the province. Everyone deserves proper care and a safe home.
OPH is continuing to work with healthcare partners to provide infection prevention and control (IPAC) support LTCH to control COVID-19 in our community. Homes in outbreak are contacted almost daily and regular on-site visits enable direct assessment of IPAC practices in the homes. Every LTCH and retirement home is rated every day in terms of needs for support, whether for IPAC training or supplies, and as it relates to staffing. In other cities, the military has been brought in when staffing levels could not be met. Here in Ottawa, LTCHs in greatest need have been paired with hospitals and the Champlain Health Region Incident Command (CHRIC) monitors how hospitals are meeting staffing requests of homes, as well as works to build capacity of homes to hire needed support. The LTCH regulator’s inspectors have been kept informed about work underway in Ottawa-based homes.
Beat the heat
We are currently experiencing our first heatwave of this summer, which will be challenging in a different way this year. Heat warnings mean extra precautions need to be taken by everyone. Some of the usual ways we cool off are not yet available this summer because of measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Please think ahead and plan for ways to stay cool and keep in touch with others who may not be able to stay cool, especially during a heat warning. Some ways to protect yourself and help others during hot weather:
- Cool off in an air-conditioned space when available.
- Cool off in the shade or at City of Ottawa parks and greenspaces.
- Use a fan and mist your skin with water.
The City of Ottawa has set up four emergency cooling centres to provide relief from the heat to residents in need. The emergency cooling centers are set up to ensure users can practice proper physical distancing and will have access to washrooms and water. Residents should bring a cloth mask with them to the cooling centres if they have one. Emergency cooling centres will be open Tuesday, May 26 from 3 pm to 7 pm, and will operate on Wednesday, May 27 and Thursday May 28 from 11 am to 7 pm. We expect this heat wave to subside by end of day Thursday. The emergency cooling centres are located at the following City facilities:
- Ron Kolbus Centre: 102 Greenview Avenue
- Hunt Club Community Centre: 3320 Paul Anka Drive
- Sandy Hill Community Centre: 250 Somerset Street East
- St-Laurent Complex: 525 Coté Street
Visit OPH’s Extreme Heat and Humidity page for more information.
OPH continues to follow guidance provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health regarding testing. Any Ottawa resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can present for testing. Note that this may lead to longer waits to access testing if many people show up. In addition to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre and Care Clinics, some family doctors’ offices are providing this service, and mobile services are available for populations with need. OPH still recommends using the COVID-19 self-assessment tool if you are worried you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.
We continue to work with healthcare partners to ensure this increased testing capacity is best used to find out where the virus is in the community and break chains of transmission.
Mental health support
Unfortunately, as is often the case during a difficult time, we are seeing that mental health concerns and issues are on the rise, perhaps exacerbated because residents may not have access to their regular coping strategies. The Ottawa Distress Centre has seen a significant spike in calls for help to access mental health and addiction supports and for people in crisis. Increases in stress, anxiousness, sadness and loneliness have been highlighted from local service providers.
OPH and our community and hospital partners have come together to better support residents. We are very proud of our partners supporting mental health and grateful for the work they have been doing. Some examples include the Royal Ottawa’s C-PROMPT clinic providing ongoing counselling services, which received over 400 referrals since it launched on April 16, and the Royal’s Health Care Worker Mental Health Clinic providing clinical services to healthcare workers and paramedics. The Ottawa Health Team and partner agencies, including OPH, are providing the Counselling Connect service for same-day or next-day phone or video counselling. And, as part of the Kids Come First Health Team, Youth Services Bureau (YSB) has modified their 24/7 crisis service to help youth and families get connected to the right Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions service in Ottawa.
Visit OPH’s Mental Health and COVID-19 page for additional resources.
Living with COVID-19
I am pleased to share that when OPH contact tracers follow-up with COVID-19 positive cases, contacts per case dropped from approximately20 contacts to an average of five. This shows that people are being smart about distancing and helping to continue plank the curve.
Despite this progress, we only have a small margin of safety if we want to continue to pin down the virus. If we increase our close contacts too widely and too quickly, the number of cases and outbreaks may rise sharply, which will put a burden on the health care system – something we have fortunately avoided so far. As we reopen and are no longer focusing on “just staying home,” we need to be smart about distancing, engaging in lower risk activities and learning to live with the virus.
Keep protecting others by wearing a cloth mask when a two-metre distance cannot be kept and limiting your contacts. We are working with various partners to develop a supply of cloth masks for those who will have difficulty accessing or purchasing a mask. I hope to share more details as we finalize those details and partnerships.
NEW: Ottawa COVID-19 Dashboard
We’ve been exploring different measures to better convey how OPH is monitoring COVID-19’s spread in the community, which is especially important now that restrictions have begun to ease and the province is reopening. Today, we launched the Ottawa COVID-19 Dashboard to provide this information to the public in a user-friendly format.
We’ve introduced a colour-coding system to let people know what is the bottom-line. On a scale from red, orange, yellow and green, we are currently in the orange category. The colour rating is based on our public health and health system capacity, our ability to test and track the virus and on current spread in the community. This new public dashboard, which will be updated daily, will hopefully help residents better understand the situation and the impact of their actions. Each of us matter and each of us will help determine the trajectory of the number of infections in our community and our freedoms into the future.
A special note from VISTAS – our Alta Vista community newspaper is BACK IN PRINT, after a month of hiatus (an effort to support our volunteer distribution team’s safety and commitment to follow Stay at Home directives). While we are excited to be back on track with our final paper before the summer months, we acknowledge that some places of business who usually have papers for pickup are still not open. We’d like to remind our readers that VISTAS is also posted online each month at vistas-news.ca in addition to paper copies. Our June issue will be hot off the press and on the website on Friday, May 29.