NS government creates bursaries for Continuing Care Assistant training
The Nova Scotia government has dedicated $460,000 in funding for bursaries to those entering a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) training program in an effort to boost recruitment. The government-appointed Expert Panel on Long-Term Care recommended more funding for training as part of their report delivered in January.
“This is a welcomed announcement that we hope will result in more trained CCAs, that will in turn ease the workload across the province’s overburdened long-term care sector,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. “There is still more work to do in order to address staffing shortages and the pressures of dealing with more acute health needs and increasingly complex mental health needs.”
Unifor members in Nova Scotia presented a full report to the panel in late 2018 with recommendations to address deteriorating working conditions, to expand training opportunities for new and current staff and to invest in long-term care budgets to meet current needs. Read the full submission here.
Long-term care workers hoped action would be taken quickly after the Expert Panel’s review was made public, but Unifor members report conditions remain the same across many long-term care facilities.
“We are still expected to do more with less, we continue to struggle to book any time off due to lack of staff, and are consistently working short-handed because of recruitment and retention issues,” said Linda MacLeod, President of Unifor Local 4620. “Workers have sounded the alarm because we have been watching this happen over many years and know people are burning out. We have to be cared for as workers so we can offer great care to our residents.”
The Nova Scotia government cut the long-term care budgets in two consecutive budgets in 2015 and 2016, and only returned some of the original funding following loud opposition from Unifor, other unions, employers and families in the 2017 budget.
“We remain hopeful Premier McNeil understands the depth of the problem and hope this step forward is one of many taken to invest in the dignity of residents and the wellbeing of long-term care workers,” said MacNeil.
Read the press release here.
Unifor presents to Expert Advisory Panel on Long-Term Care
Unifor members from long-term care homes across the province joined Atlantic Area Director Linda MacNeil on Monday in Halifax to present recommendations for the future of long-term care to the Expert Advisory Panel assembled by the province.
"Our members have valuable insights and experiences to share with this panel that will be making recommendations to address the crisis in long-term care," said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Area Director. "We are hopeful the government will recognize the urgency of the situation in homes across the province and work with us and other stakeholders to address them."
In a formal submission, Unifor outlined three main recommendations to address issues of resident care, worker recruitment and retention:
Funding and staff
Chronic understaffing and inability to recruit and retain staff are symptoms of system-wide underfunding, deteriorating working conditions and low compensation for the workforce. There needs to be a commitment from the government to increase funding and staffing levels in the province.
Recruitment and retention
Unifor recommends the establishment of an advisory committee that will focus on recruitment and retention in the long-term care sector. This committee should be comprised of unions, employers, and educational and government stakeholders.
Implementation and accountability
Unifor recommends the Expert Advisory Panel be given a mandate to review the implementation of their recommendations over time.
The full submission to the Expert Advisory Panel can be downloaded here in PDF.
Unifor meets with NS Health Minister about long-term care
Unifor local leaders working in long-term care in Nova Scotia made sure the province’s health minister knew the impact two years of funding cuts have had on the quality of care for seniors.
They were bold and heartfelt when they met with Minister Leo Glavine recently, and they did not shy away from explaining just how devastating the cuts to funding have been on staffing levels, on patient care, and on food budgets.
“This is so unfair to our seniors, and for the government to have said the cuts don’t have an impact on care is ridiculous,” said Linda MacLeod, President of Local 4620. “I’ve worked in long-term care for 27 years and I can tell you that people used to walk into our home and now everyone arrives by ambulance. Greater care is required, yet we’re consistently understaffed and asked to do 12 hours of work in eight.”
Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne was firm as she told the minister and his top officials, including the deputy minister and the heads of continuing care and labour relations, what would address the crisis.
“We want the cuts reversed and we want an investment in long-term care that delivers dignity to residents and seniors and respects long-term care providers,” said Payne.
Unifor has launched advertisements across the province and on social media to demand the government reverse the cuts. Members have also been meeting with MLAs across the province. The union is encouraging Nova Scotians to sign the online petition directed at Premier Stephen McNeil, and to call your MLA.
To find your Nova Scotia MLA and their contact information, click here.