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ONA Mourns Fallen LTC Residents, Calls for Change

Posted: January 1, 2016

(January, 2016)

By: ONA Frontlines

ONA members and staff have honoured those impacted by violence and inadequate care in the province’s long-term care (LTC) homes at a somber ceremony at Queen’s Park on October 1.

The event, staged by the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) to coincide with International Day of Older Persons, marked the 10-year anniversary of the inquest into the tragic deaths of two residents at the hands of another resident with dementia at the Casa Verde LTC home. While a coroner’s jury issued 85 sweeping recommendations for the operation of Ontario’s LTC homes, including a minimum care standard for residents and improved staffing levels, the government has yet to implement any. Since 2001, 24 residents have died as a result of violence at the hands of fellow residents and thousands have been attacked.

As the clock struck 11 a.m., representatives from sponsoring organizations, including Southlake Residential Care Village Bargaining Unit President and LTC nurse Carolyn Turner and ONA Government Relations Officer Lawrence Walter, marched in procession up University Avenue, accompanied by a lone bagpiper, to lay wreaths at a makeshift memorial in front of the Ontario Legislature.

“We are here to share our heartfelt sadness with the families of these residents, shame that nothing has been done, and to call for change,” OHC Provincial Director Natalie Mehra told the gathering, which included NDP Health Critic France Gélinas and Labour Critic Cindy Forster, a former ONA staff member.

“While people entering nursing homes today are often older, more frail and subject to dementia and behavioural problems, we do not meet the standards necessary for adequate care. The government has given more money to the LTC sector, but it’s mostly to renovate and build homes; it’s not going to front-line care.”

Following the half-hour service, interspersed with haunting melodies by vocalist Heather Bambrick, observers placed pink carnations at the base of the wreathes to show their respect to the fallen and injured and to share their hope for a better future for those living and working in LTC homes.

“It was important for ONA members and staff to be part of this memorial for our LTC residents because if nothing is done, one day, it could happen to someone we love,” concluded ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. “We need change and we need it now.”

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