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Ontario October 8 Day of Action on Long-Term Care: All Out to Uphold the Rights of Seniors and Their Caregivers

Posted: October 9, 2020

(October 8, 2020)

By: Steve Rutchinski,

The Ontario Day of Action on Long-Term Care (LTC) organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, frontline care and senior advocacy organizations is being held on Thursday, October 8 to demand improved care in LTC facilities and an end to for-profit privatized LTC. Nineteen cities have now announced a total of 21 events. In Toronto, the car cavalcade will start at 9:30 am at Queen’s Park and an online press conference will be held at 9:45 am. For all other locations and start times see the Calendar of Events above.

Many things have been revealed about our society as a result of the COVID pandemic, things which make it impossible for any thinking person to want a return to the old normal. And as Canada moves into a second wave, one of the things that stands out is the irrationality of how this situation is being dealt with.

Who would ever imagine that the same for-profit LTC monopolies, responsible for so many deaths of seniors and frontline health care workers, would be rewarded with more money from the government, in our name, to fix things they haven’t fixed in more than two decades?

Who would imagine that seven months into this pandemic, testing and tracking possible transmissions would be in such disarray; that health care workers still do not have adequate personal protective equipment; that schools would be reopened without measures taken for physical distancing in the classroom or the transportation of students to and from schools? Or that hospitals would be laying off nursing staff to balance their budgets!

To any thinking person this is irrationality! How is it that frontline health care workers who have given their all, become the target of orders-in-council and ministerial decrees overriding their rights and their collective agreements? How is it that migrant workers, foreign students and others are recognized as doing work that is essential to the functioning of Canadian society but are denied status and rights here? How is it that standards of care for seniors advocated by registered nurses and other frontline care givers are simply ignored; or that courts and quasi-judicial bodies can outright dismiss appeals by teachers’ and educators’ unions for governments to implement in our schools the standards set by public health departments?

All of this is to keep working people from being involved in making the decisions that affect their lives; to silence the repudiation of the neo-liberal, privatization and pay-the-rich schemes that disarmed society and set the stage for what is now taking place.

As the second wave unfolds, government authorities shamelessly blame the people for being too lax about maintaining safe “bubbles”; blame the youth for having parties and so on. Not one will acknowledge it might have something to do with people going back to work because to do so would be to acknowledge that contact at work may be a factor and that would open the door to compensation claims. Not one will acknowledge that getting to and from work on public transit might be a factor; that busing children to school by the “old normal” standards; or refusing to cap class sizes at reasonable numbers might be a factor.

Such measures all require public investment — not handouts to the rich. They require mobilizing the active participation of the polity in solving these problems. But the public authority clearly has not put full weight of the society and its resources behind keeping people safe and sorting out the issues of safely starting up, within the conditions of a pandemic. The COVID pandemic has indeed revealed many things — one of the most important being the need for a credible public authority.

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