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Ontario Health Coalition shines light on the most exploited workforce in our society

Posted: May 3, 2020

(May 2, 2020)

By: Michael Thomas, Toronto Caribbean Newspaper

Does the Ford Government’s Action Plan reflect his rhetoric when it comes to shielding residents and staff in Long-Term Care from COVID-19??

Depending on who is asked, the answer is yes or no. The Toronto Caribbean Newspaper looked at both the government documents and the Ontario Health Coalition point of view so that you can be the judge.

It is no secret that in Ontario some long-term care facilities have taken a serious and deadly licking from this monster COVID-19, and as a result of this situation families and friends of both patients and caregivers as well as the entire province are asking questions.

We are increasingly frustrated with the disconnect between the statements of the Premier and what is actually being put into the regulations, directives, and guidance issued by his own government,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of Ontario Health Coalition.

Management of a single case in staff

Long-term care homes must immediately implement outbreak control measures for a suspect outbreak.  Even if the staff exposure was to a specific area of the long-term care home, consideration must be given to applying outbreak control measures to the entire home.  Staff members who has tested positive and symptomatic cannot attend work. Staff who have tested positive, have symptom resolution, and are deemed critical may return to work under work isolation.

What is required

Staff who test positive cannot be required to work in the homes, they should be under quarantine with support according to the rules, said Ontario Health Coalition, and the opposite is happening.

OHC makes a list of cases against the Ford government that states the government preaches one thing when it comes to protecting patients, and workers of long-term care, and continues to practice another time and time again.

Mehra told Toronto Caribbean Newspaper about the death of a Personal Support Worker who recently died from COVID-19. Mehra said, “She, the PSW, had worked for 31-years in the profession, sadly it was revealed by the dead woman’s husband that in the early stages of this outbreak she was denied PPE (personal protective equipment). When Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said personal support workers at long-term facilities do not need to wear protective equipment unless their location is the site of an outbreak, that was unbelievable.”(

 “It is a humanitarian crisis what’s happening in the long-term care homes. It’s appalling and yet still there is no plan to test everybody not even in homes where there are outbreaks, and we are receiving letters from family members who are screaming.”

“Some,” she said, “are sending letters to their MPP saying, my mother is in a long-term home, the virus is spreading through the home, she can’t even get tested, what is going on.”

According to Mehra, the Ontario government widened the array of symptoms one needs to have in order to get tested. If a resident has COVID-19, then the resident in the adjacent bed and the ones in the next room can get tested. The only thing is that it is left up to local decision, it is not a requirement, and there is no requirement that everybody in the home gets tested.

“What we are saying,” Mehra explained, “is simple. All the volunteers, all the third party contracted staff, anyone going into or living in the homes needs to be tested. This is one of the key ways to stop the spread. In a long-term care home, there is no isolation. Simply putting a curtain around the bed of someone who is coughing or sick with COVID-19 is not isolating him or her from the other people. The workers who have been working in impossible conditions in these long-term homes have been terribly exploited, and I believe this treatment is racist, and oppressive. I think that the belief is shared widely. This workforce is among the most exploited workforce in our society.”

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