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Workers urge more funding, protection for long-term care residents

Posted: October 9, 2020

(October 8, 2020)


The Peterborough Health Coalition held a rally outside of Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith’s office on Thursday, calling for more funding for long-term care homes in the area and more protection for residents.

“As we all know the impact of this COVID-19 pandemic is being heavily felt in long-term care facilities,” said Charlene Avon, a board member of the Ontario Health Coalition.

“It is being underfunded, it’s been undervalued, it has been privatized and by a government that has after six and seven long months, deadly months, no plan to protect residents and staff and families.”

Robin Nelson, whose mother is in a long-term care home, said residents deserve better care than they are getting.

“My mom was in long-term care and she wasn’t getting the quality care she deserves,” Nelson said.

“Because they don’t have the PSWs there. It isn’t so much that PSWs don’t care it’s that they don’t have time to care properly.”

Donna Paris, a personal support worker at Fairhaven long-term care home, said she came to talk about the challenges that her and her co-workers face daily in long-term care.

“The last few months have been some of the most emotional and difficult times,” Paris said. “I have experienced in my 15 years as a PSW, we have lost and continue to lose residents due to COVID.”

The union wants a minimum of four hours spent per resident per day, said Melinda Whitney, a PSW at Extendicare and chief steward for the Service Employees International Union.

“Our union is advocating for a minimum of four hours a day per resident,” Whitney said. “They deserve that and I strongly believe they have been ignored and those are the ones that taught us morals and values and our strong beliefs and we have to give that back in return and give them a decent life.”

The pandemic exposed glaring vulnerabilities in the industry that the government can’t ignore, she said.

“We have all heard the horror stories about the care delivered in some long-term care homes and it is shameful, we need to do better,” Whitney said.

Smith came out to speak to protesters about their concerns.

He said a committee was formed to address the challenges that have come up in long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic.

“There is a committee that has been formed to take a look at the challenges in long-term care,” Smith said.

A new program was also launched by the province to provide additional pay during the pandemic, he added. It should be more easily distributed because the new money is coming from the province directly rather than through the federal and provincial governments.

“The new program we have announced a week ago is all money coming from the province,” Smith said. “It should flow much quicker than what the past did. We have learned from some of the mistakes made.”

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