Warning of potential health crisis fell on deaf ears
Posted: April 26, 2020
(April 25, 2020)
By: Ben Lefebvre, Timmins Daily Press (Print Edition)
Long term-care homes and homecare providers have been severely underfunded for years despite calls to increase resources needed to protect against inflation and to adequately compensate a skilled workforce.
The disaster we are presently witnessing was forecasted by the Ontario Health Coalition. Unfortunately, their well-researched reports have fallen on the deaf ears of successive Conservative and Liberal governments, both provincial and federal.
In their December 2019 “Caring in Crisis” -Ontario’s Long Term-Care PSW Shortage document commissioned by Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, shortcomings were identified and recommendations made to address the shortfalls that exist in this important socio-economic sector.
Unifor represents about 15,000 health-care workers in Ontario alone but the vast majority of personal support workers (PSWs) are not represented by unions, many of whom are women and recent immigrants.
A competitive bidding process for the industry introduced by our provincial government drove down wages and benefits. Part-time hours and heavy workloads have led to a shortage of individuals wishing to dedicate themselves to caring for our seniors. Deregulation has only added to the nightmare.
Private long-term care home operators have successfully lobbied provincial governments for the reduction and virtual elimination of inspections thereby avoiding public scrutiny.
It has often been said that a society should be judged by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable.
The evidence seems to be pointing to a veritable lack of empathy if not outright cruelty within the halls of power that once wielded some measure of control over senior care. In the end, it really is a matter of misguided government priorities.
Good senior care is available to some Ontarians, but unless an individual is wealthy enough to afford to pay several thousand dollars per month for “quality” personal long-term care services, one is likely destined to live out their remaining days under pretty disturbing conditions.
Most of us will eventually require some sort of help to get through the aging process using home care services or by living in long-term care homes.
Both should be regulated and made part of our publicly funded, comprehensive, single payer health care system.
They need the appropriate level of financial and human resources to deliver the care our seniors deserve.
The crisis unfolding across the country due to the COVID-19 epidemic is simply unacceptable. The Ontario Health Coalition cannot do all the heavy lifting alone. It is our responsibility as citizens to ensure that government promises to fix our broken health-care system are kept.
You can get involved by going to www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca where you too can pitch in.
We can do better, we must demand better, but we will need to keep our politicians’feet to the fire.