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Long-term care needs care now: Protesters; Day of Action urges government to boost support

Posted: October 10, 2020

(October 9, 2020)

By: Elaine Della-Mattia, Sault Star

Health-care advocates and union leaders staged an Ontario-wide protest Thursday urging the provincial government to take immediate action to address the staffing crisis in long-term care homes and implement a minimum of four hours of hands-on care for residents.

In Sault Ste. Marie, the protest and accompanying motorcade was held outside MPP Ross Romano’s constituency office.

Cathy Humalamaki, president of Unifor Local 1359, told about two dozen participants that the health-care system is broken and Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is doing nothing to fix it.

She said residents in long-term care homes need staff that can provide them with four hours of care a day and immediate action needs to be taken to increase pay, improve working conditions and offer full-time employment, similar to what has been done in British Columbia and Quebec.

Marie Della Vedova, of the Sault Ste. Marie and District Health Advisory Committee and representing the Algoma Family Council Coalition, said resident care should be a priority to the government.

Della Vedova said both organizations have reached out to Romano’s office to discuss the issue, but have found it difficult to get together with him.

“If you listen to our premier, he tends to think it is all under control, but it is simply not,” she said.

Della Vedova said her mother had spent time in a long-term care home before she died, adding she witnessed conditions first hand. She said there were times when there were simply not enough staff to care for residents, especially if one called in sick and others tried to make up for the shortfall.

“This is a job that is complex and demanding, both physically and emotionally,” she said. “PSWs need more regulations. They need proper training and staffing and they need to be paid accordingly.”

The groups also wants to see an end to for-profit, long-term care facilities across the province.

“We already know that there are higher levels of infections and fatalities in for-profit, long-term care homes across the province. Research has shown us. We need to expand our not-for-profit care facilities and we need more staff. This should not be run as a business,” she said.

Statistics suggest more than 1,900 Ontario residents and staff have died of COVID-19 in longterm care homes.

While the province has recently announced additional funding for long-term care homes, workers argue there is no clear recruitment plan.

In addition, the lack of full-time work and poor working conditions have also not been addressed, they argue.

The Ontario Health Coalition’s Day of Action was held simultaneously in communities across the province.

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