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PRESS RELEASE: Ontario Government Must Enact Measures to Keep Healthcare Workers Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 29, 2020 Angelica Cruz

RICHMOND HILL, ON, March 29, 2020  – Statement from SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart in response to the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s emergency order allowing outside workers and volunteers to be temporarily hired at Ontario’s nursing homes:

“Ontario’s government must do more to keep healthcare workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by enacting measures that hold long-term care operators accountable.

Nursing homes were dangerously understaffed before today’s crisis, so we recognize the urgency to onboarding more staff who can contribute to the care of residents throughout the long-term care sector. That’s why we’re calling on the Ontario government to hold all long-term care operators accountable by enacting the following safety measures:

  1. Immediately provide full personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks to those caring for a resident who has a suspected / confirmed case of COVID-19, for all staff who require it.
  2. Require long-term care corporations to sign attestations that they’re fully responsible for the safety of both staff and residents—even as regulations are watered down, or in some cases suspended—should nursing home administrators choose to utilize measures permitted in the emergency order.
  3. Ensure all new hires are properly skilled, trained, and oriented for their roles.
  4. Raise the level of preparedness transparency by sharing unit-level infectious disease protocols with workers, their unions, and resident-family councils.
  5. Share updated personal care plans with resident’s family should they be revised because of pandemic response efforts.

Our number one priority remains protecting our healthcare heroes on the frontline of this pandemic. While frontline healthcare workers do their part to keep us healthy, our government has a duty to keep them secure, and that means holding long-term care operators accountable for the safety of staff and residents. Only with a safe workforce can we succeed in winning this war on COVID-19.

As always, our heart-felt appreciation goes out to all workers stepping up for families during this unprecedented time; we need you and we’re here for you.”

SEIU Healthcare is the largest union in the homecare sector and represents more than 60,000 frontline workers across the healthcare system. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. SEIU Healthcare has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, supporting the training and development needs of its members, and strengthening standards in the management and delivery of patient and client care. www.seiuhealthcare.ca

SOURCE SEIU Healthcare

For further information: For media inquiries, contact: Corey Johnson, SEIU Healthcare, Head of Strategic Communications, 416-529-8909, c.johnson@seiuhealthcare.ca

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