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Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a news conference in Toronto, on Oct. 2, 2020.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Premier Doug Ford says a COVID-19 liability bill introduced by his government this week will not grant extra protection to negligent long-term care providers.

In his daily media briefing today, Ford urged families to file lawsuits if they feel their loved ones died in seniors homes due to negligence.

But he also urged the families to read the bill carefully with their lawyers so they fully understand it.

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Ford says the bill is designed to protect front-line workers and small businesses who are following public health rules and where COVID-19 exposure may occur inadvertently.

The government says the proposed legislation would not prevent lawsuits against those who wilfully or through “gross negligence” endangered others during the pandemic.

Critics have said the bill will make lawsuits against long-term care providers more difficult by raising the legal standard when it comes to a finding of negligence.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 790 new cases of COVID-19 today, and nine new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 321 of the new cases are in Toronto, 157 are in Peel Region, 76 are in York Region and 57 are in Ottawa.

The province says it has conducted 32,646 tests since the last daily report, with another 29,332 being processed.

In total, 260 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 71 in intensive care.

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The province is also reporting 144 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 66 among students.

Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 518 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

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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