The Government of Ontario has issued two emergency orders in response to soaring COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions across the province.
The province said the orders, which were announced on April 9, will help to maximize critical care capacity and ensure that hospitals have access to the resources they need.
One order allows hospitals facing “major surge events” that threaten to overwhelm their critical care capacity to transfer patients to other sites without obtaining their consent.
The second order grants Home and Community Care Support Services organizations and Ontario Health the authority to redeploy health care workers to hospitals that are facing “significant” pressure due to COVID-19.
The government expects the orders to increase Ontario’s ICU capacity by up to 1,000 beds.
“With Ontario’s hospitals facing unprecedented critical care capacity pressures during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, our government is taking immediate action to ensure no capacity nor resource in Ontario’s hospitals goes untapped,” said Christine Elliott, the Minister of Health.
“Together with the provincewide Stay-At-Home Order, these measures will help to ensure that hospitals continue to have the staffing and resources they need to care for patients.”
There are currently 1,524 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, including 585 who are in the ICU – the highest the province has seen since the the start of the pandemic.
The orders, which went into effect on Friday, will be valid for 14 days unless they are revoked or extended.
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As well, the government has instructed Ontario’s hospitals to “ramp down” on elective and non-emergency surgeries in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
The measure will come into effect at 12:01 am on April 12, although it does not apply to the Northern Ontario Health Region or to pediatric specialty hospitals.
“We understand that deferring scheduled surgeries and other procedures will have an impact on patients, their families, and on caregivers,” said Matthew Anderson, the CEO of Ontario Health.
“We are monitoring the situation and will work to resume as soon and as safely as possible these deferred services and procedures.”
To date, Ontario has seen 382,152 COVID-19 cases and 7,531 virus-related deaths.