A COVID-19 outbreak at an Ottawa women’s shelter was linked to two long-term care workers who were staying at the facility because their income couldn’t cover their rent, an independent commission has heard.

Dr. Jeff Turnbull, the medical director of Ottawa Inner City Health, described the situation in his testimony before the Long Term Care COVID-19 Commission in mid-December. The commission’s hearings aren’t open to the public but transcripts are typically posted online days later.

Turnbull recalled a massive rush to sanitize shelters, train staff on COVID-19 protocols and obtain personal protective equipment as the pandemic tightened its grip on the province last winter, noting the system did not have a pre-existing plan to respond to a crisis of this nature.