QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP for Oshawa, Jennifer French, 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 in the Durham region.
“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 hundreds of outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the province, many of them in Durham Region. Long-term care and retirement homes in Oshawa, Pickering, Uxbridge, and Ajax have been in the news and in our hearts,” said French.
"My heart breaks for the residents, staff and loved ones of those at Pickering's Orchard Villa retirement and long-term care home, where at least 40 residents have died from complications related to the virus, and where the Canadian forces will be sent to help care for residents. The facility is severely understaffed, and these tragedies never should have happened.
“Seniors in care and their loved ones are terrified to think about what could happen next. The time to evaluate the underfunding and understaffing will come later — but the time to act decisively to keep residents safe has to come today.
“Our parents and grandparents need us. We have a responsibility to protect them. We have long-term care homes and families across Durham Region being devastated by sickness and loss. Everyone is anxious for their loved ones.”
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
- Mandate that all health care workers have access to, and wear, personal protective equipment, based on the precautionary principle, including N95 masks
- 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).