QUEEN’S PARK — The Ministry of Long Term Care admitted the government knew over the summer that the system was short as many as 6,000 personal support workers (PSWs) – yet the Ford government is still trying to save a buck by allowing devastating understaffing in nursing homes to continue.
That came in a ministry staff member’s testimony to the commission on long-term care, the transcripts of which were posted over the weekend and highlighted by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in question period on Monday morning.
“Long-term care homes are so short-staffed, residents are regularly neglected. People get sick from dehydration and malnourishment. There is a revolving door of underpaid, part-time workers run off their feet. And so far, over 1,900 residents have died from COVID-19. We have to take action to protect them this time, and we have to do it now with thousands more, well-paid and well-trained staff,” said Horwath.
The Ford government has had results from its own long-term care staffing study since July, but hasn’t acted on any of its recommendations. A horrific report penned by Canadian Armed Forces members sent in to help during the out-of-control first-wave of COVID-19 in Ontario’s nursing homes also identified dramatically low staffing levels as putting seniors at risk. And in his own testimony to the commission, Ontario Hospital Association head Anthony Dale said he’d even written a letter to Premier Doug Ford “insisting on immediate action to prevent unnecessary loss of life in long-term care homes.” But to no avail.
“The Ford Government’s refusal to invest, and refusal to listen to the alarm bells being sounded by families, long-term care homes, frontline workers and health experts could have devastating consequences,” said Horwath. “It’s time for Doug Ford to stop shortchanging seniors, and invest in their protection.”
Over this past weekend alone, at least 55 more seniors living in long-term care became infected with COVID-19, and as of Sunday, 79 homes were experiencing outbreaks. The NDP has proposed a complete overhaul and record investment for long-term care and home care. Among other changes, the NDP has committed to a staff-to-resident ratio that guarantees every resident 4.1 hours of hands on care per day.
Oct. 6, 2020
Ministry of Long-Term Care
“In terms of the health care, health human resource support to augment that capacity, I think we noted that earlier in the summer, when we were doing our planning, we felt like we were potentially 6,000 PSWs short of what would be required across both long-term care and home and community care.”
Oct. 5, 2020
Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association
“But if you fast-forward to Good Friday, once we had reached the decision that there was a state of paralysis or indecision at a minimum with respect to action on long-term care, the OHA wrote a letter to Premier Ford, which was in your pre-reading which we sent on Friday, really insisting on immediate action to prevent unnecessary loss of life in long-term care homes and other congregate settings for seniors.”