ONTARIO – The Ontario Government is setting out increased precautions for congregate care settings in areas where there is a high rate of community spread of COVID-19 to ensure the province’s most vulnerable and those who care for them are safe. Those settings include homes serving adults with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, children’s residential settings, youth justice facilities and Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy residential programs that support Indigenous individuals and families both on- and off-reserve.
When a residential care setting is located in a community that is beginning to see increased cases of COVID-19, the ministry will contact them to apply further precautions. Those precautions could include:
- Enhanced infection prevention and control protocols including screening
- Enhanced visitor and home visit restrictions
- Increased restrictions to client participation in community day programs.
“Keeping residents, and the dedicated staff who support them, safe during the continuing COVID-19 outbreak remains our top priority,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We are providing additional direction to our congregate care settings to ensure we are adapting to the realities of current caseloads, while also preparing for any future waves.”
The ministry recognizes the importance of visits for both residents and their families and wherever possible, essential visits such as those necessary to maintain the health, wellness and safety of a resident will be permitted to continue unless the local public health unit directs otherwise as part of outbreak management. An essential visitor may include, but is not limited to, a parent or guardian, a social service worker or a health care provider.
A list of the regions covered by each precaution level is posted online. The province will update the list as the areas with higher community spread change. Those planning a visit to a congregate care setting are advised to contact the agency in advance to make sure the home is free of outbreaks and to get information on their visitor policy and any restrictions.
“We know the restrictions on visitation in the early days of the outbreak caused families and residents pain and hardship,” said Minister Smith. “These precautions will help us do everything we can to maintain contact, while clearly outlining what measures need to be taken to keep everyone safe.”