Richmond Hill, Ontario — SEIU Healthcare, the union that represents over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, has issued the following statement from President Sharleen Stewart:

“This report comes at a time when Ontario’s long-term care system remains in disrepair and continues to operate at dangerously low staffing levels. The neglect must end now.

The Commission reaffirmed what we know needs to occur right away:

1. End exploitative part-time work and provide full-time jobs to workers
2. Provide higher, universal wages for health care workers, notwithstanding if specific staff classifications like personal support workers (PSW) are employed in hospitals, long-term care, or home care, because a PSW is a PSW is a PSW
3. End for-profit care delivery from Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) masquerading as nursing home chains because the profit motive has no place in the delivery of care
4. Follow the SARS Report roadmap and adopt the precautionary principle
5. Urgently act to achieve four hours of care per resident per day now, not four years from now
6. Hire as many as 50,000 more staff to ensure quality elder care over the coming decades
7. Use the tools government already have, such as fines and licence revocation, to ensure compliance from negligent operators
8. Boost our home care system to compliment long-term care as our population ages

These are just some of the urgent actions needed. And as the report states, stop studying the studies because the time to act is now.

This week SEIU Healthcare lost its fifth member from COVID-19 because they showed up and did their jobs during a pandemic. All women. All workers of colour. Meanwhile, the rich men who run Ontario’s big nursing home chains got paid corporate bonuses from the comfort of their homes. We won’t stop fighting until healthcare workers receive the physical and economic security they deserve, and the tools to ensure quality care for our seniors.

While this sector languished for decades under successive governments, Premier Ford did everything he could to sweep a full examination of his failures under the carpet from initially refusing to call a public inquiry, to refusing the Commission its requested extension, to dumping thousands of documents on them at the final hour, to Doug Ford himself failing to testify. The Commission’s report confirms what we all knew in our bones: that Doug Ford’s iron-ring slogan was just a lie to cover for inaction during a public health crisis.”