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Northumberland Health Coalition calling on province to reform long-term care system

Posted: June 5, 2021

(June 4, 2021)

By: Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas, Bonnie Kennedy, & Roy Brady, Northumberland News

Chronic underfunding and privatization of health care have had an increasingly negative impact, particularly in long-term care, as has been made painfully obvious during COVID-19.

Decades of underfunding, understaffing, poor working conditions, high levels of violence and a focus on profits over quality care have eroded Canada’s system of long-term care (LTC) to the breaking point, leaving us tragically unprepared to protect the lives of our most vulnerable.

Four out of five COVID-related deaths in Canada have been either residents or staff of long-term care homes – the highest proportion in the world.

We support the recent call from Doctors for Justice who this past January called for the province to implement the following measures, among others:

• End for-profit long-term care homes

• Follow through on your promise to hire additional qualified staff without fast-tracking undertrained students or reducing qualifications

• Ensure all LTC residents receive at least the minimum four hours of direct hands-on care per day your government promised

• Set a minimum pay standard, consistent with the hospital sector, for front-line LTC staff that includes not only personal support workers and other medical professionals, but also cleaning, food service and administrative staff

• Ensure 70 per cent of staff at each LTC home are full-time.

We in the community also strongly advocate for paid sick time and access to benefits for LTC staff, enabling them to make a decent living and eliminating the need to work more than one job in multiple locations.

This is good for residents, as well as workers.

Stability for the people providing the care is key to ensuring a healthy and robust system of caring for our most vulnerable.

We plan to lobby hard for these and other reforms promised by Doug Ford way back at the beginning of this pandemic.

People are still needlessly dying out there and it will happen again – it is not a question of if but when. We need to fix this now.

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