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Ontario must address challenges in long-term care homes

Posted: September 17, 2020

(September 16, 2020)

By: Wallaceburg Courier Press

It is shocking, given the devastation of COVID-19 in our long-term care homes, but Ontario’s government has done little to address the critical staffing and care shortages.

Even before COVID-19, across Ontario long-term care homes were critically short-staffed every shift, every day. Then the pandemic hit. Now the staffing shortage is a full-blown emergency.

The numbers are devastating. More than 5,500 residents and almost 3,000 staff have been infected by COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes. Tragically, almost 2,000 residents and staff have died. Many died isolated, without enough care, without staff time for emotional support. Long-term care staff have had to fight for access to appropriate PPE and have worked in crisis-level staffing shortages that have only become worse during the pandemic. In Canada, we have seen the highest levels of death in long-term care homes in the developed world. We cannot allow this to continue.

This staffing shortage exists in our communities. There is evidence that a second wave of COVID-19 is beginning with numbers of COVID-19 cases increasing in Europe and Canada. Despite repeated promises from Premier Doug Ford, his government has taken no action to deal with emergency staffing shortages and inadequate care levels in long-term care homes. No action has been taken to get care levels up to a safe standard. Most of the deaths in Ontario were for-profit long-term care homes yet privatization of new long-term care beds continues.

We are calling on Ford to take immediate measures to stabilize the workforce by improving wages, ensuring staff who want full-time hours are paid for full-time hours, to implement a minimum care standard of four hours of hands on care per resident per day, and making long-term homes safe so that people can be recruited to work in them.

Our message is clear: care for our loved ones cannot happen without enough staff to provide it.

Please call or email Ford and your local MPP and let them know this crisis must be addressed now.

Shirley Roebuck

Chair, Wallaceburg and Walpole Island Health Coalition

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