On April 1, the Government of Ontario updated regulations under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, which require designated cooling areas of all homes be served by air conditioning and be maintained at a comfortable level during specified periods and which will enhance the effectiveness of enforcement. These new regulations came into effect May 15, 2021 and all 626 long-term care homes in Ontario are in compliance. In comparison, last year nearly 13 per cent of long-term care homes had no air conditioning at all.
“We said that this government would spare no expense in order to protect our most vulnerable. Today’s announcement is another example of us delivering on that promise as we continue to correct for the decades of neglect in long-term care that were allowed under previous governments,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This investment is in addition to the historic $246 million commitment in our 2021 Budget to improve living conditions in long-term care homes and will ensure that their residents and staff finally enjoy the level of care and comfort they deserve.”
In addition to ensuring designated cooling areas in all long-term care homes, homes have made significant progress in exceeding the regulatory requirements by providing cooling throughout their buildings, including in resident rooms. Currently, 60 per cent of homes are fully air conditioned, including in all resident rooms, compared to 42 per cent last summer. An additional 23 per cent of homes are working toward being fully air conditioned as soon as possible.
“Our government and Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes have worked quickly to ensure vulnerable residents, staff and families will be cool, comfortable and safe this summer,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Every single home is now providing air conditioning in designated cooling areas and at least 83 per cent of homes will have full air conditioning by this summer.”
The Ontario government has invested $61.4 million through the Infection Prevention and Control Minor Capital Program to provide air conditioning in long-term care homes, as part of a $246 million commitment in Budget 2021: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy to improve living conditions in long-term care homes. The government is also providing an additional $23.9 million through the Long-Term Care Minor Capital Program.
The province has also put other programs in place to ensure that all long-term care homes have air conditioning by the summer. Ontario is providing homes up to $100 million in joint provincial-federal funding through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, to upgrade and improve HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and sprinkler systems in long-term care homes across Ontario.