PICKERING — This time the Canadian Armed Forces are fighting a war on domestic soil.

Their enemy may not be visible to the naked eye or neutralized by conventional weaponry, but it as deadly as any foreign adversary the Canadian military has ever faced.

And they are ready for battle — or at least readying.

Friday seemed to be assessment day at Orchard Villa in Pickering, Eatonville in Etobicoke, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Hawthorne Place in North York and Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton.

Three vans with military personal — what appeared to be an advance party — arrived at some of the homes for a quick inspection and left. Military medical professionals are expected to be deployed Saturday to the five GTA long-term care facilities that have been ravaged by deadly COVID-19.

Nowhere has been hit worse than Orchard Villa where at least 40 residents have died.

The military stopped by the home Friday and although they did not get out of their vehicles they were said to be returning soon. When they man their posts, they will be welcomed because this place has been decimated by COVID-19.

“It’s such a shocker,” said Linda Lynden who could not believe on Monday the number was three dead and by the end of the week it was 40.

“It’s terrifying,” she added.

Her concern right away was her 81-year-old father,  Victor Chivers, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

“I call every day to see how he is and it was hard to find out,” Linda said.

It was crisis time inside the home, located near Brock and Kingston Rds., and staff were run off the their feet. Sometimes there were four ambulances arriving almost at the same time.

Linda and her husband Shayne, who once visited the home every day, have not been able to see him their family member in over a month.


Shayne and Linda Lynden wait for news about their 81-year-old father at the Orchard Villa during COVID-19 on Friday, April 24, 2020.

Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Thankfully the staff were able to show him a Facebook Live broadcast and they could see that while he is not well, he’s hanging in there.

Not every family can say that here.

“It’s so sad,” said Linda.

Needless to say they welcome the military help offered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the request of Premier Doug Ford.

“We see it as a positive,” said Shayne. “They need the help.”

The staff, reminds Linda, are “under stress” and overwhelmed.


Sandy Brown speaks to her mother Doreen at the Orchard Villa during COVID-19 on Friday, April 24, 2020.

Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Much of the staff and facilities feel the military deployment is a much-needed troop reinforcement in a war that has seen a large number of casualties.

As Durham Region Medical Officer Dr. Robert Kyle said so of the virus, it’s “like a tinderbox where if there is one flame, it call can go up.”

Assistance from the armed forces professionals — trained for the battlefield and experienced in rescues and the theatre of war — is needed.

Susan deRyk, Interim President and CEO, Lakeridge Health, said: “Lakeridge Health takes this responsibility seriously and will continue to act in the best interest of Orchard Villa’s residents, and the community as a whole as we continue the fight against this virus.”

Same goes over at Eatonville, which has endured 37 deaths.

“Eatonville Care Centre was pleased to learn this afternoon that the province is providing military support to our home as we work to manage the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Executive Director Evelyn MacDonald. “These resources will assist our hard-working staff as they continue to prioritize the health and safety of our residents.”

“I want to express my thanks to the provincial government and to the Premier for expediting our request for assistance,” she added.

It has been a tough month of mounting casualties on the frontlines of the COVID-19 war.

Perhaps now that soldiers, airmen and women, and sailors have landed and will be engaging the enemy, there’s hope for victory in this deadly war.

jwarmington@postmedia.com



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