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OPSEU makes urgent recommendations to fix COVID-19-hit long-term care

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Toronto – Building on the work of the Canadian Labour Congress, OPSEU is calling on the Ontario government to run long-term care and home care as an integrated publicly run service, along with 22 other recommendations aimed at preventing another tragedy like the deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the pandemic has put a spotlight on the appalling state the province’s long-term care system is in. “Decades of mismanagement, neglect and reckless profiteering have created a kind of Wild West in the sector,” Thomas said. “It must be cleaned up now, no more lives can be lost because of a profits first, people second approach.”

OPSEU, which represents some 3,500 long-term care workers, presented the provincial government Thursday with a submission that included 23 recommendations drawn from the expertise of front-line workers.

OPSEU’s principal recommendation would return long-term and home care to the public sector as a publicly funded and integrated system. Currently, the system is a patchwork of for-profit, private and municipally operated facilities.

“When for-profit corporations buy up long-term care facilities, the first thing they do is look for ways to make money – which means cutting corners on resident care and paying staff as little as possible,” noted OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “That’s why caregivers need to hold down two or three jobs. And that’s one reason care homes have seen such appalling rates of COVID-19. Our seniors, the people who built this country, deserve better, much better.”

Almeida also urged the government to end the chronic underfunding that has starved the sector for decades. “It makes no sense to use scarce tax dollars to boost shareholder earnings,” he said. “The public funds currently filling corporate pockets must to go where they’re most needed: into the care of those in long-term care,” said Almeida.

Premier Doug Ford invoked an emergency provision this week allowing the government to send temporary managers into long-term care facilities to oversee operations and care. “I appreciate the Premier moving to get the situation under control,” said Thomas. “But calling in temporary overseers is a band-aid solution. The recommendations we’re providing will put people first.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

Click here to view the recommendations.