Long-term care staffers honoured at Cornwall National Day of Mourning
Posted: April 30, 2022
(April 28, 2022)
By: Laura Dalton, Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Community members and city councillors gathered in Lamoureux Park Thursday to commemorate workers who have been injured or killed on the job.
The service began with a land acknowledgement and prayer for those who have died, presented by Cornwall Coun. Elaine MacDonald, who is also secretary of the local health coalition, and also involved with the Cornwall and District Labour Council, which organizes the annual event.
“May we learn from the loss, honour the memory of those lost, and work toward a safer workplace for all people,” MacDonald said in her prayer.
Two minutes of silence was followed by lowering the flag for the Canadian Labour Congress.
Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, referenced testimony from Ontario public health workers, who describe staffing shortages in long-term care facilities as “collapsing,” as “worker after worker after worker got sick.”
She described a long-term care home of 60 full-care residents experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 being managed by two personal support workers. According to Mehra, full-care means the residents require someone to feed them, reposition them, and assist them in going to the bathroom.
“It has traumatized the staff,” she said.
Many of the residents were dying of COVID-19, and because of staffing shortages the residents were not getting the care they needed, Mehra said.
She added the remaining health-care workers are facing immense workloads. Mehra said in long-term care homes where there are outbreaks of COVID-19, “it means that garbage cans are overflowing, it means that there aren’t enough staff to wash the linens, it means that residents will not get bathed.”
Mehra described how so few staff members remain in long-term care homes residents are vomiting in their beds and workers are unable to provide any care for them.
“The adage that we have, ‘never again,’ is meaningless unless we require accountability,” Mehra said.
Mehra added accountability is needed from the for-profit owners of the long-term care homes, the provincial and the federal government, “Who are responsible for setting the terms under which we work,” she said.
Attendees placed white and red roses on the worker’s monument at the conclusion of the memorial.