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Ontario long-term care staffing timeline lacks urgency

December 17, 2020 - 12:00 AM

TORONTO – Unifor welcomes the Ontario government's long-term care staffing plan to establish an average of four hours of direct care for long-term care residents but remains concerned on its implementation timeline.

"It's baffling the province wants to wait four more long years to establish a minimum of four hours of direct care for residents when today they admitted the sector had been neglected for decades," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "The pandemic has shown politicians what workers and residents have been saying for years – Ontario's long term care sector is in crisis now and needs governments to act swiftly."

Today's announcement comes nearly two weeks after the province's Commission on COVID-19 in Long-term care issued its second interim report. The new staffing plan focuses on six key areas of action to be delivered over four years, including providing a minimum of four hours of care and investments to recruit new staff for long term care homes.

“Before the pandemic long-term care homes were in crisis and faced staffing shortages on a daily basis so waiting four more years is completely unacceptable” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. "The Ontario government needs to realize that this is a matter of life and death and the reality is the longer we wait, the more deaths we will see.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2,513 long-term care residents in Ontario have died of COVID-19 and of the province's 626 long-term care facilities, 143 are currently experiencing an outbreak. At least 10 of those outbreaks were recorded in the last 48 hours. This week the Prime Minister stepped in offered funding to provinces for long-term care, only if they commit to working with the federal government.

"Doug Ford is right that health care is a provincial responsibility, but now is not the time for jurisdictional political turf war.  Ontarians expect their Premier to put aside politics and do what's best for our most vulnerable living in long term care," said Dias. “Today in Windsor more than 60 residents and 40 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in a nursing home represented by our Local 2458. Adequate care cannot be provided to sick residents when more than 40 front-line workers are unable to come to work, so the province must step in immediately.”

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