Ontario’s long-term care minister says the province is loosening rules that have restricted visits to the province’s long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Merrilee Fullerton says starting Wednesday, a person visiting a resident outside a home will no longer need to attest that they’ve taken a COVID-19 test within the previous two weeks.
She says indoor visits, which are currently limited to essential workers and families of palliative patients, will be permitted as of July 22, with a two-person limit.
Essential caregivers will also be allowed back into the facilities when visits resume.
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The provincial government is also changing the way it funds long-term care home construction in a bid to spur more development across the province.
The Progressive Conservatives say the creation of thousands of needed beds has been slow, so the government will change the way it funds the projects.
Officials said the new formula will pay builders more, and include grants to cover up to 17 per cent of up-front capital costs.
Premier Doug Ford had promised in July 2018 to spend $1.75 billion to build 15,000 new long-term care beds and renovate 15,000 existing beds over five years.
A spokeswoman for Ontario’s long-term care minister said Wednesday that money will now fund 8,000 new beds and 12,000 renovated beds.
The province also promised that all new long-term care facilities, and those being renovated, will have air conditioning.
The policy will take effect immediately, but officials could not say how much it will cost the government or provide a timeline for installation of the cooling systems.
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 102 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths related to the virus on Wednesday.
The total number of cases now stands at 37,052, which includes 2,732 deaths and 32,920 cases marked as resolved.
The number of resolved cases grew by 135, outpacing the number of new cases.
The number of people in hospital dropped by more than 20, but the province reported slight increases in the numbers of people in intensive care and on ventilators.
The Ministry of Health said more than 23,000 people were tested for the novel coronavirus in the previous day.