“It’s time for immediate action in long-term care”: a coalition of unions representing frontline healthcare workers respond to Ontario’s long-term care commission
TORONTO — SEIU Healthcare, CUPE Ontario, and Unifor, unions that represent healthcare workers across the long-term care sector, released the following joint statement in response to Ontario’s newly-announced commission into long-term care:
“Elderly residents and frontline workers were let down by their government during the initial response to COVID-19. We saw the impacts of falling short of a legislated staffing standard, decent pay and full-time jobs that prevent having to work at multiple facilities, and the continuation of for-profit care. A commission or public inquiry into long-term care has always been about one thing: justice for the families who lost their loved ones due to a failed response to the pandemic. What was done, why was it done, and when was it done? Transparency into those answers can only come with without limits and interference from the provincial government and the long-term care industry.”
“We look forward to ensuring that the voices of our members on the frontline of this crisis are heard by the commissioners. The reasons and source of confusion and chaos must be understood so that this never happens again. No government official and no corporate decision-maker should be shielded from the commissioners’ investigation.”
UNION LEADER QUOTES:
“Healthcare workers in long-term care tell us the system is nowhere near prepared for a second wave of COVID-19. Staffing levels are critically low; abhorrent working conditions are a deterrent to employee retention; and the added impacts of Bill 195 mean burnt-out frontline workers in need of respite can be denied vacation by the companies that operate nursing homes. Today’s announcement is about getting to the bottom of the failures in long-term care during the pandemic, but it can be no substitute for a real action plan to improve the conditions of work and care in Ontario’s nursing homes.”
– Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare
“We know what needs to be done – and it can be done today. We need a commitment and a comprehensive strategy to address the staffing crisis. This commission cannot be used as a tactic to stall the changes we urgently need. We also need assurance that the families of residents and front-line workers will be able to speak freely without fear of reprisal.”
– Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario
“Premier Ford has publicly committed to fix long-term care, a promise we intend to hold him to. A thorough, public inquiry into the response to COVID-19 along with immediate changes to address staffing shortages and improve care standards will begin to repair the damaged trust the public has in our long-term care system.”
– Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director, Unifor
“CARE NOT PROFITS” CAMPAIGN:
SEIU Healthcare, CUPE Ontario, and Unifor recently launched their “Care Not Profits” advocacy campaign to demand an end for-profit delivery of long-term care in Ontario. During the COVID-19 crisis, Ontario’s worst hit nursing homes were all for-profit facilities. Data tells us that for-profit long-term care corporations have 17 per cent fewer staff than non-profit nursing homes. Yet, while families and care staff were dying throughout the pandemic, three of the largest long-term care businesses combined paid shareholders more than $58 million in dividends in the past three months alone. These are facts.
The new, 60-second ad called “Care not Profits” launched on July 23rd.
To view the ad and learn more, visit carenotprofits.ca
The full, high-definition broadcast from the campaign launch, including the 60-second ad, is available for media to download here: https://bit.ly/39lxVfU