April 9th, 2020

Province should cover costs for accommodations for frontline heroes who shouldn’t go home

QUEEN’S PARK — Some frontline health care workers are desperate for a place to stay during the pandemic, because home is where immuno-compromised, elderly or infant loved ones are.

“We’re hearing from health care workers who are devastated at the very thought of going home after their shift because someone they love there is vulnerable,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “If a health care worker or first responder has higher-risk people in their household, we need to help them keep their family safe,”

Some hospitals or unions have negotiated discounted hotel rates for some health care workers, but all health care workers should have a cost-free option, organized and paid for by the province, according to the NDP.

London nurse Jennifer* has been caring for COVID-positive patients, and is terrified to return home to her husband, who has a compromised immune system.

“As health care professionals, we work with pathogens everday, and our education and skillset led us on this path to care for others. As frontline workers we understand the gravity of this world pandemic and the challenges to procure personal protective equipment, especially N95 masks. Asking health care staff to store N95s in Tupperware and re-use them goes against our knowledge base, but this is our reality now. If our government is asking us to make concessions, we would like the government to step up and allow us to quiet our minds knowing that we have a space to sleep without the added stress of infecting our loved one too,” said Jennifer.

NDP MPP Peggy Sattler (London West) says she and her team have spoken to Jennifer and others like her, who can’t shell out extra cash for a weeks-long hotel stay, and have spent their off-hours searching for a safe place to disinfect and rest easy knowing their loved ones are safe.

“Health care workers who live with someone vulnerable shouldn’t be asked to risk their loved ones’ lives so they can save others,” said Sattler. “Many health care workers will be able to isolate their clothes, medical bags and themselves when they get home, but some cannot. They need the province to step up and help them.”
* The NDP is not using Jennifer’s real name to avoid reprisals for speaking out. Jennifer is available to speak with media.