OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s up to the provinces to avoid care home catastrophes like the multiple deaths in Winnipeg over the weekend.
"We recognize the responsibilities that provinces have, on long-term care issues. The Constitution designates that as (an) area of provincial responsibility," Trudeau told the Free Press on Monday, after eight residents of Maples personal care home died in a 48-hour span. Police are investigating.
"Of course, the federal government is deeply concerned with the tragedies we’ve seen coming out of Winnipeg — with the tragedies we’ve seen come out of long-term care centres across this country," the prime minister said.
He noted the military is able to deploy to provinces that request help, and Ottawa has helped fund the Canadian Red Cross so it can respond with personnel and physical installations for care homes in need.
"We’ve continued to… impress upon the provinces, how it’s important to share best practices," Trudeau said.
The federal Liberals have pledged to implement a national standard for care homes, but there has been no public progress on that promise since they pledged to do so Sept. 23.
In July, the Public Health Agency of Canada released interim guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in care homes.
Manitoba’s chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa, said Monday the province had implemented that guidance through health authorities issuing directives to care homes.
The province’s two deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred at Maples and Parkview Place care home, both are run by Ontario-based Revera Inc., which is majority-owned by the federal public service pension plan.
The federal NDP has asked the Trudeau government to leverage its shares to have Revera hire more staff. The Liberals have not directly answered that call.