July 14th, 2020

Long-term care fixes can’t wait: Horwath to Ford

NDP calls for immediate action on staffing, inspections

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to act immediately to address problems in long-term care homes that can be fixed today — like staffing up ahead of a possible second wave of COVID-19.

Horwath’s call comes after Doug Ford introduced so-called recovery legislation that completely ignored critical issues in long-term care, like quality of care and staff wages. To date, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,830 residents and staff in long-term care in Ontario, and infected thousands more.

“Long-term care workers like PSWs were run off their feet before the pandemic struck,” said Horwath. “Now, as hospital resources and the military leave, they’re going to be even more short-handed as they struggle to provide seniors with the care they want to.

“Not enough staff in long-term care means seniors don’t get the basic hands-on care they need, like help with daily hygiene, or even help eating and drinking.”

Horwath was joined for a press conference Tuesday by Lisa Pattison, who works as a dietary aide at Grace Villa in Hamilton. While Pattison is fortunate to work in a home that has weathered the pandemic better than others, COVID-19 has pulled back the curtain on problems in long-term care that she and others in the industry have been sounding the alarm about for years, like chronic understaffing.

“After the Liberals badly neglected long-term care for 15 long years, Doug Ford targeted the sector for cuts, including funding meant to flow to wages,” said Horwath. “It’s pretty insulting for Mr. Ford to call health care workers heroes and leave them to scrape by on little more than minimum wage, without benefits. And that’s no way to hire and keep the people we so badly need in long-term care homes.”

Horwath and the Official Opposition New Democrats are calling on the government to immediately:

  • Create a hiring and retention fund to bring thousands of new PSWs into long-term care
  • Establish a minimum staffing requirement to ensure seniors get at least four hours of hands on care per day
  • Raise wages for all PSWs
  • Mandate that health care workers, including PSWs, are offered full-time jobs with benefits so they don’t have to work three different part-time jobs
  • Guarantee a bare minimum of one comprehensive resident quality inspection per year – not just incident or complaint checks
  • Require air conditioning in every resident room

“The NDP will keep fighting for an independent, find-and-fix public judicial inquiry into long-term care, but we can’t afford to wait to fix the problems we all know are hurting our parents and grandparents right now,” said Horwath. “We should be doing what we can now to make life better and safer for seniors and the people who care for them, not sleepwalking into a second wave of COVID-19 no better prepared than we were the first time around.”


Lisa Pattison, dietary aide, Grace Villa

“Building more beds will only enhance the crisis we currently face in long-term care. We don’t have adequate staffing levels to properly care for the residents we have now. This system is broken and solutions are needed. Our residents depend on it.”

Video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vskGSfyfKyc