KITCHENER -- Personal protective gear was the focus of a court hearing in Toronto on Wednesday, with the Ontario Nurses Association suggesting staff at four long-term care centres, including Anson Place in Hagersville, are not getting enough personal protective equipment.

THE ONA says nurses at Anson Place in Hagersville, as well as Eatonville and Hawthorne Care Centres in Toronto, and Henley Place in London, were discouraged from using N-95 masks as COVID-19 spread throughout the homes.

They are asking the courts to intervene.

“By protecting the staff who move from resident to resident, you are protecting the residents,” argued ONA lawyer Kate Hughes.

The ONA says N-95 masks were limited and locked up in the homes.

The lawyer representing the homes said when deciding who gets masks - and when - management has to weigh need, conservation and supply.

“My clients feel strongly that they have complied and they have done everything they can and beyond,” said lawyer Ian Dick.

He went on to say research shows N-95 masks aren’t always necessary, or add extra protection.

The ONA says their concern exceeds just the N-95 masks. They want sick residents to be separated from residents who are well, and staff divided and only caring for either sick or well residents.

The company running the homes, Responsive Management says it is difficult to hear some staff feel the company hasn’t done everything possible to protect them.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Vice President of Operations Linda Calabrese also said the company needs to do better.

Calabrese says before the pandemic, they worked to ensure they had “all the materials and personal protective equipment our staff needed to meet the safety and protection standards and directives laid out by Public Health.”

“Despite the global shortage, we were successful in acquiring all the additional supplies we needed to manage through this pandemic, including 630,000 surgical masks, 39,600 gowns, and 4,300 face shields,” Calabrese added.

She also said that “from day one”, staff have had access to the necessary personal protective equipment outlined by Public Health and the Ministry of Health.

The judge at Wednesday’s court proceedings said late Wednesday these are “pressing issues”, and he hopes to make a decision soon.