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Ontario Premier Doug Ford fights back tears during his daily briefing at Queen's Park in Toronto on April 23, 2020.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s mother-in-law has tested positive for COVID-19 in her Toronto long-term care home, one of more than 2,000 residents in the province who have been sickened by the disease.

Mr. Ford became emotional on Thursday when speaking about his wife Karla Ford’s 95-year-old mother, who is a resident of West Park Long Term Care Centre in the city’s northwest.

He referenced the front page of the Toronto Sun newspaper, which shows a woman visiting her family with her hand pressed against the glass.

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“You see a loved one with their elderly parent and they put their hand up against the window, that’s heartbreaking,” Mr. Ford said.

“I relate to it in our own family.”

Coronavirus guide: Updates and essential resources about the COVID-19 pandemic

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Although he didn’t say it publicly, the Premier’s Office later confirmed that Mr. Ford’s mother-in-law recently tested positive for COVID-19. According to West Park’s website, 49 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 30 staff, and 13 people have died.

As of Thursday, Ontario had reported 516 deaths from COVID-19 in long-term care homes – 72 per cent of all deaths in the province.

“My heart breaks for the people and the families,” Mr. Ford said.

Ford said that Ontario's long-term care system 'needs to be changed,' just moments before the premier's office confirmed his own mother-in-law has tested positive for COVID-19. The Canadian Press

He also echoed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying the long-term care system needs to be improved, although he didn’t specify in what way.

“The system needs to be changed, and we’re changing the system, but right now our main focus is to make sure we protect the people inside these long-term care homes,” Mr. Ford said.

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Mr. Trudeau on Thursday said Ottawa will be heeding calls for military assistance to hard-hit nursing homes in Ontario and Quebec, but added that soldiers should not be caring for seniors in the long term.

Mr. Ford said he’s glad that the federal government has approved the request.

“We have literally called in the troops, and the cavalry is on its way.”

Mr. Ford’s mother, Diane Ford, died of cancer in January at age 85.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

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