Merrilee Fullerton to make announcement on air conditioning in Ontario long-term care homes

Ontario’s minister of long-term care is set to make an announcement Thursday about the province’s commitment to have adequate air conditioning installed in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton is scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. ET. You can watch it live in this story.

During a heat wave in July 2020, as the sector was still reeling from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to “rapidly” mandate air conditioning in all long-term care homes, including residents’ rooms.

CBC News reported yesterday that, nearly a year later, the province still hasn’t done that

Ford told reporters on July 8, 2020, that his government would act “immediately” to change the Long-Term Care Homes Act. The legislation requires homes without central air to provide at least one cooling area for every 40 residents and mandates a minimum temperature of 22 C, but no maximum temperature.

Ford himself pointed to the gaps in those requirements listed in Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes Act. 

“Right now in the bill it says common areas are air conditioned, but just imagine someone sitting up in a third storey room,” he said at the time.

“Sometimes [staff] don’t have an opportunity to bring these patients, especially now, into these common areas. I can’t imagine sitting there in 27 or 28 degrees of heat in a room, and it’s just unacceptable.”

The Ministry of Long-Term Care told CBC News this week that it had “collected information on mechanical cooling systems in all homes” in February.

“We are using this information to work with the sector to ensure that adequate cooling systems are in place for this summer to improve the health and well-being of residents,” spokesperson Mark Nesbitt said in a statement.

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