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A man gestures at healthcare workers at the Altamont Care Community on Mother's Day, May 10, 2020 in Toronto.

Cole Burston/Getty Images

Seniors’ residences in Ontario operated by hospitals are on the hook for all expenses associated with mandatory management orders imposed by the province, but not for assistance from the Canadian military.

The Ontario government has ordered hospitals to take over nine homes in the province struggling with outbreaks of COVID-19. Hospitals awarded the temporary management contracts told The Globe and Mail that owners of the homes are responsible for the hospitals’ day-to-day expenses, including for staffing and supplies.

The nine homes are owned by some of the biggest players in the private, for-profit long-term care sector, including Sienna Senior Living Inc. and Revera Inc. So far, 447 residents of these homes have died of the virus, accounting for one in four long-term care fatalities in Ontario, according to the provincial Ministry of Long-Term Care.

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The federal government has also deployed the Canadian Armed Forces to six of these homes, at the request of Premier Doug Ford. The military’s engagement was set to end on Friday, but the province is in talks to have them extend their stay, Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said on Thursday. “Clearly, the military is not leaving the homes tomorrow."

The federal government does not plan to bill the province or the homes for its assistance. “On requests for assistance, there is no cost recovery,” Mary-Liz Power, press secretary to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, said in an e-mail to The Globe.

The Ontario government issued the first mandatory management order on May 25 to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket. The hospital is now two weeks into a 90-day contract at River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton, north of Toronto, where 32 residents in the 119-bed home have died of the virus, according to the Long-Term Care Ministry.

“As part of that order, the owners of the home are obligated to assume any costs Southlake incurs that are necessary for us to fulfill our mandate as temporary manager,” hospital spokeswoman Kathryn Perrier said in an e-mail statement to The Globe.

All but one of the nine homes subject to the management orders are older facilities, where up to four residents share a room and one bathroom. They are classified as "C" homes, meaning they meet the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s 1972 design standards.

The exception is Woodbridge Vista Care Community, which is classified as a “New” home. It was built in 2004, and all of its 224 beds are housed in either single or double rooms.

Woodbridge is one of three homes owned and operated by Sienna that has been taken over by a hospital. Ms. Fullerton said ministry inspectors are investigating the circumstances surrounding a resident who died of exhaustion caused by malnutrition.

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The other two Sienna homes are Altamont Care Community and Camilla Care Community. All three are in the Greater Toronto Area.

Altamont was featured in an Armed Forces report detailing horrific conditions at five long-term care homes in Ontario, ranging from poor infection control practices to the abuse and neglect of residents.

Peel Regional Police have launched a criminal investigation into a whistle-blower’s allegations of elder abuse at Camilla Care. The whistle-blower was part of a team from Trillium Health Partners sent in to Camilla in late April to help deal with a COVID-19 outbreak at the home, where 68 of 236 residents have died.

Trillium has since taken over management of the home.

The other homes under hospital management are: Downsview Long Term Care Centre; Eatonville Care Centre and Hawthorne Place Care Centre, which are both owned by Toronto-based Rykka Care Centres; Orchard Villa in Pickering; and Forest Heights Long Term Care Centre in Kitchener, which is owned by Revera.

“We anticipate reimbursing the hospital for their direct expenses as a result of this partnership,” said Linda Calabrese, a vice-president at Responsive Management Inc., manager of Eatonville and Hawthorne.

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The military is currently assisting at Altamont, Eatonville, Hawthorne, Woodbridge and Downsview. It withdrew from Orchard Villa on June 4.

- With a file from Laura Stone

Editor’s note: June 11, 2020: Due to an editing error, an earlier headline on this story was incorrect. It is the long-term care owners, not the hospitals, who must foot the bill for emergency pandemic costs in their homes.

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