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Protest calls for greater accountability in long-term care

Posted: October 5, 2021

(October 4, 2021)

By: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles, Northern News

Henri Giroux, a member of the North Bay Health Coalition, speaks to media and supporters during a small rally, Monday, outside Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli's office. Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles/The Nugget

Henri Giroux, a member of the North Bay Health Coalition, speaks to media and supporters during a small rally, Monday, outside Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office. Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles/The Nugget

COVID-19 opened the country’s eyes to the problems in long-term care homes, but those problems have been there for many years, says Henri Giroux.

Giroux, a member of the North Bay Health Coalition, held a protest outside Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office Monday at noon to announce the ‘Rise Up for LTC’ campaign.

“These demands are clear and the coalition will not accept any more empty words and broken promises,” Giroux told a small crowd of union workers and area residents.

“We need immediate action to fast-track increases in care levels and staffing to meet residents’ care needs,” he said.

“People are tired, long-term care homes need more staff to work. We have been pushing since 2003 to get four hours of care per resident. (Former premier Mike) Harris took it out in 1996, then we pushed for it when (Nipissing MPP Monique) Smith was running in 2003. She said the government would look at it and it never happened, and it still hasn’t happened.”

Giroux said now, the Ford government says it will happen in 2025, “but we can’t wait. We need it now.”

Another demand is the enforcement of care standards through the reinstatement of annual surprise inspections, as well as accountability through fines and the loss of license for repeated non-compliance.

“We also need to end for-profit long-term care and ensure human rights of long-term care residents are upheld, including an end of unlawful detention, isolation and ensure full access to caregivers and families,” Giroux said.

He said health coalitions in North Bay and Ontario will push for these demands over the next year.

“COVID opened people’s eyes to the problems within long-term care, but these problems were here well before the pandemic hit. The difference is that only those people who had loved ones in long-term care knew about it. This has now opened many people’s eyes.”

A protest calling for greater accountability in long-term care is held outside Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office in North Bay, Monday. Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles/The Nugget

A protest calling for greater accountability in long-term care is held outside Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office in North Bay, Monday. Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles/The Nugget

Mike Taylor, one of the speakers at the rally, knows the gaps in long-term care, which is why he is doing everything he can to keep his parents living in their own home.

“I feel it’s an obligation of mine to advocate for those who can’t advocate, and a lot of our seniors can’t do that for themselves. Whether or not our parents are in long-term care facilities, we still have a responsibility,” he said.

“Our seniors are our most vulnerable sector and we need to look after them.”

Taylor says the system needs a complete overhaul and would like to see senior’s care put into the Canadian Health Accord.

He said having the federal government take an active roll to ensure the same standards of care across the country would provide accountability.

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