QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to immediately make major changes and investments in long-term care and home care to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
As a result of decades of chronic neglect, long-term care and home care across Ontario were already facing damaging underfunding and understaffing before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, there have been at least 36 outbreaks in long term care homes in the province.
“Seniors in care and their loved ones are devastated and terrified thinking about what will happen next,” said Horwath. “The time to evaluate the underfunding and understaffing will come later — but the time to leap into action to save more residents has to come today.
“Our parents and grandparents need us. We have a responsibility to protect them.” The Official Opposition NDP is calling for major changes and investments, including:
- Aggressively recruiting home care and long-term care staff
- Mandate that more staff be scheduled on each shift in each long-term care home
- Immediately increase salaries for staff to a minimum of $22/hr in order to retain and attract workers, including Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs)
- Assign each staff member to one facility only, and ensure they have full-time hours, to eliminate the potential for staff to transmit COVID-19 to other facilities, ending all exceptions
- Standardize visitor policies province-wide to prevent COVID-19 transmission from visitors and volunteers, seeking Public Health determination on the safest policy
- Mandate that home care workers wear personal protective equipment — including gloves and a surgical mask — for every home visit, to avoid transmission from one vulnerable client to another, and mandate long-term care staff wear PPE any time they’re with residents
- Create a caregiver fund to support families that choose to care for their loved one at home
In 2019, several reports highlighted the under-staffing crisis in Ontario’s long-term care sector, including the “Caring in Crisis: Ontario’s Long-Term Care PSW Shortage” report (December 2019), “Breaking Point: Violence Against Long-Term Care Staff” (March 2019), and “Bloodied, Broken and Burned Out: 88% of Long-Term Care Staff Experience Violence” (March 2019)