Protesters to demand action
Posted: June 25, 2020
(June 24, 2020)
By: Sudbury Star Staff, Sudbury Staff
A protest will be held in Sudbury today as part of a series of demonstrations across Ontario concerning the staffing shortage in long-term care homes.
The Ontario Health Coalition protest will take place outside the North East Local Health Integration Network offices in the Rainbow Centre, just east of the main doors, at noon.
It is one of 14 planned demonstrations, the biggest set to occur on the lawn of Queen’s Park in Toronto.
The coalition says the staffing crunch in long-term care facilities is worse than ever, despite several well-publicized deaths of residents from malnutrition and insufficient care.
“The Ford government has not taken any policy action to address the staffing shortage across Ontario’s long-term care homes,” it said in a release. “In six homes, they sent in the military. In other homes, they have left it to the homes to address staffing shortages by forging partnerships with hospitals in some areas, or by using funding voluntarily in an ad hoc way to top up some staffing hours.”
There is no requirement, however, to add staff, the coalition argues. “There is no recruitment strategy (like Quebec has done), no permanent improvement to wages and working conditions, no improvement to training regimes,” the group says.
The staffing shortage was already a crisis across the province prior to COVID-19 and “is now a full-blown emergency,” according to the coalition. “At the same time, the government has made a priority of pushing through a homecare and community care act, and a bill that would limit families’ability to launch class action lawsuits against private companies, like for-profit long-term care homes.”
The Ford government was expected to vote down opposition party amendments to the home and community care legislation, clearing the way for Bill 175 to go to third reading in the legislature.
“Under the new rules of the legislature, passed by the Ford government to limit debate and speed up the passage of legislation, the new law could be passed after only five hours of debate,” the coalition says.
The coalition has already held online virtual protests “regarding the government’s failure to act on the key changes needed to save lives,” it says, as well as sent an open letter to the premier that was signed by more than 200 organizations, representing almost two million Ontarians.
The group has additionally participated in public hearings but these “were short, with almost no public notice, and … government MPPs cut off presenters (and) used up time for questions and answers by making long statements and by forcing participants to answer yes or no in what was supposed to be a public consultation,” according to the release.
“Having watched the premier making populist-sounding statements and at the same time ramping up its efforts to deregulate, remove public governance and oversight, privatize vital healthcare services while we are in a pandemic, and at the same time not making policy and spending the money necessary to deal with the staffing crisis in long-term care, (the group is) now taking the extraordinary step of organizing cross-Ontario protests.”
The coalition says Bill 175, the new home and community care legislation, would gut the existing Home and Community Services Act, dismantle public governance and oversight of homecare, and hand over the remaining public part of homecare to an array of for-profit and non-profit corporations and enable the corporations to contract and subcontract home and community care amongst themselves, with no oversight. Star Staff firstname.lastname@example.org