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Crosses laid out on a lawn near the Camilla Care Community, a long-term care home in Mississauga, Ont., on May 13 2020.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

An independent commission says Ontario’s long-term care homes were unprepared for a pandemic thanks to years of neglect and sweeping reforms are needed to protect their vulnerable residents in the future.

The findings come in a 322-page report from Ontario’s Long-Term Care Commission that was submitted to the government tonight.

The commission finds that the province failed to learn lessons from the SARS epidemic in 2003.

It says poor facility design and resident overcrowding heightened sickness and death in the nursing homes, with nearly 4,000 residents and 11 staff dying of COVID-19 by the end of April.

The commission says a severe staffing shortage and a work force poorly trained infection control measures compounded the situation.

It says new facilities need to be built to address the needs of the province’s aging population and adds that the government also needs to reconsider how those nursing homes are managed, with a focus on quality care.

More to come.

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