Years of lobbying pays off for long-term care workers as Ontario finally commits to four hours of care

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A health care worker assists a long-term care resident.

November 2, 2020

TORONTO – The Ontario government announced today to finally do what Unifor members and long-term care workers have demanded for years, to establish an average of four hours of direct care for long-term care residents by 2024-2025.

"Today's victory is the result of years hard work, and pure grit from health care workers, unions and families wanting a strong long term care system in Ontario," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Ontario's long-term care system has been in crisis far too long. This pandemic has spotlighted the crisis in long-term care and the urgency to make change. This announcement gives workers and residents hope for brighter days ahead, but we must aim for a faster timeline for implementation and create a plan to attract the thousands of front-line workers who have left the industry."

The government plans to announce details in the provincial budget later this week and layout a long-term care staffing plan next month. In addition to the minimum of four hours of care announcement, the government plans to hire more personal support workers, registered practical nurses and registered nurses in the coming years ahead.

"It has taken an immense amount of hard work to achieve today's victory," said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. "It's a tragedy that it took thousands of deaths and the pandemic for governments to recognize that workers are overworked and undervalued in long-term care. Moving forward, I hope that the government moves quickly to enshrine the four hours of direct care in legislation. We must stop putting monetary values on our elderly and those who care for them."

In 2017 Unifor launched the Six Minute Challenge campaign to highlight the on-going struggles of many personal support workers in long-term care facilities who have only six minutes in the morning to prepare residents for breakfast. This year before the pandemic, Unifor National President Jerry Dias issued a challenge to Doug Ford to spend one shift with him in a long-term care home and see the obstacles facing workers and work together to find solutions to strengthen the sector.

"Though Premier Ford did not spend one shift in a long-term care home with me and witness the dangerous conditions for workers and residents, I am relieved that he listened to our demands and is committed to fixing our long-term care sector," said Dias.

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Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
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