Staffing Rules in Ontario’s Long-term Care Long Overdue

Province’s NDP Leader says Commitment Needs to Come with Better Job Conditions, Wage Boost

A Statement by Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

Another hearse leaves a nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario where more than 25 senior residents have reportedly died from COVID-19 related complications

NDP Leader’s Statement followed by an Afterword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, and a disturbing CBC News report on the lack of government oversight of long-term care homes in Ontario

Posted April 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has been speaking out for better conditions in the province’s long-term care homes for years.

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement in response to the government’s announcement about long-term care staffing:

“The NDP has been calling for an end to the practice of staff working in multiple long-term care homes for some time, so we are relieved to see the government finally take this step. It shouldn’t have taken weeks to put a stop to something that put vulnerable seniors in the crosshairs of COVID-19, and I am heartbroken knowing that this announcement is simply too late for some families.

We look forward to seeing the order to ensure there are no exceptions, because the stakes are too high to get this wrong. And it won’t be enough for the government to simply say staff can’t work in multiple long-term care homes – we need to address the reasons why they had to do this in the first place.

Respect for the health care heroes who are working in our long-term care homes means ensuring they have full-time hours and paying them a decent wage. If we don’t do that, we will continue to see staff leave and take second jobs to make ends meet.”

An Afterword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

A few of the signs being held by long-term care workers in the Hamilton area, at a 2019 protest over Ford government cuts to care programs

One of the things this global COVID-19 pandemic has certainly done, along with melting down jobs and economies, and causing sickness and death for countless hundreds of thousands of people, is expose how at least two or three decades of cutting public services and taxes for the more affluent, and hollowing out decent-paying, middle class jobs, is coming back to chew people up when they need a social safety net the most.

These perilous times are taking their cruelest toll on the most vulnerable among us, including our seniors here in Ontario and other regions of Canada and the United States.

As I follow the news about the plight of seniors in long-term care residences during this pandemic, and about the disproportionate number of COVID-19 related deaths occurring among the residents in these places, I can’t help but be shocked to hear over and over again about the cost-cutting that has occurred in them – especially the privately owned and operated ones – over the years, about how poorly staffed they are, and how poorly paid most of the staff is.

Support workers protest outside a long-term care facility in the Chatham area in late 2018, after Ford government funding cuts resulted in more layoffs and fewer resources needed to care for senior residents

It is also shocking to learn how little the provincial government in Ontario now bothers to inspect these facilities to make sure they are clean and safe for the seniors living there.

In Ontario, inspections and other regulatory measures to protect people in senior’s residences in the province have been weakened going back at least two decades ago when the Tory government of then Premier Mike Harris was in the middle of carrying out a slash-and-burn agenda on every public program from environmental protection and education to health care.

Harris, a good friend and mentor of the current Tory premier, Doug Ford, now sits as a senior member on the board of the privately owned and operated Chartwell Retirement Homes, which has several senior residences in Ontario, including ones in the Niagara community of Vineland.

Former Ontario Tory premier Mike Harris, for years on the board of a private company operating seniors facilities in the province, and his friend, the current premier of Ontario, Doug Ford

As you will see in the CBC report that was featured on CBC’s flagship news hour, The National, this April 14th, Ford may be talking a nice game about “protecting the vulnerable” now, with the COVID-19 victim count soaring in Ontario, but his government has gone along with an agenda of short-changing these residences and the people that live and work in them too.

I urge you to click on the screen immediately below and watch this CBC report, and as you do, make a pledge that you will join others across Ontario in ensuring these residences get the resources and government oversight that they need, and that we will make those who can afford to pay more taxes, finally pay up to cover the cost of doing it.

Here is the CBC report –

Just as a final note, here is an excerpt from the promo that Chartwell, where Mike Harris has sat for years on the board, features on its website –

“Making People’s Lives BETTER is more than a phrase at Chartwell, where Mike Harris sits on the board, it is a promise that we consider to be our highest priority. We want our residents to know that the care and services they receive in a Chartwell home will make their lives happier, healthier and more meaningful. We want family members to feel reassured that their loved ones are secure, active and engaged while living in one of our retirement or long term care residences. We want our employees to know that their contributions are valued and appreciated.”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

You can read one of the many recent, shocking report about conditions at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcageoon, Ontario, where so many of the senior residents have died and the staff continues working in stress and fear, by clicking on https://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/news-story/9938748-lindsay-nurse-answered-call-when-pinecrest-nursing-home-needed-help/

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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