The recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected six long-term care homes in Mississauga and five in Brampton, according to a report from the Region of Peel.

There are currently 14 long term care homes on the website that have reported an outbreak of some kind. 11 have been confirmed COVID-19 cases, two are awaiting test results, and one listed as a seasonal coronavirus outbreak (a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19).

This means the news out of Queen’s Park from Wednesday couldn’t have come at a better time.

At an April 15 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford presented a new plan and emergency order with the aim of protecting people in long-term care facilities. It’s called

The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes program was formulated with the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, David Williams, and that key measures were implemented immediately.

“We will do everything we can to protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens because we all know they are most at risk during this pandemic,” said Premier Ford.

“Our three-point action plan builds on the measures we have already taken to fortify that iron ring of protection we have placed around our long-term care residents and those who care for them.”

The new measures include more aggressive testing, a screening and monitoring plan, as well as ways to manage outbreaks and further spread of the virus. Not only does it include the above, but the plan aims to increase the size of the long-term care workforce. The province say that all of these things will make sure that Ontario can respond with agility as the situation rapidly evolves.

One other measure in the plan is an emergency order which restricts employees at long-term care facilities from working at more than one location. This reduces the possibility of cross-contamination.

In order to protect workers who might have to temporarily give up a job, employers are required to protect the job as an unpaid leave of absence. The province also urges employers to give part-time workers full-time hours, which not only bolsters the workforce but can help workers who may have lost hours make up for possible lost income.

“This new action plan significantly enhances existing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable, including long-term care home residents and the staff who care for them,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We owe it to our most vulnerable, to their families and loved ones, to fight this terrible virus until the end,” said Ford. He added, “We will stop at nothing to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

For more details, see the full provincial plan here.