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OPSEU/SEFPO calls on Ford to heed all long-term care recommendations for more staff, care

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in the Queen's Park media gallery.
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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is urging the Ford government to swiftly act on the recommendations of the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, including its recommendation to hire more full-time staff and ensure that residents receive a minimum of four hours of care per day.

“For years, our members in long-term care have been demanding more staff so that they can provide decent and humane care to everybody,” said Thomas. “The government’s own commission is echoing our demands, so it’s finally time for action.

“Long-term care homes are already facing staffing shortages. Rapidly expanding their staff will be a huge challenge, but it’s far from insurmountable,” said Thomas. “As we said last month, it’s time for the government to press our network of community colleges into action.”

On Sept. 29, OPSEU/SEFPO publicly called on government to offer government-funded college education, and direct colleges to work with OPSEU/SEFPO to develop appropriate training and certification programs.

“This is the most urgent issue facing the government right now,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Our parents, grandparents and eventually all of us will need the protection that will only come with more workers and more care.”

Long-term care homes have been the epicentre of outbreaks and deaths in the province. Nearly 2,000 residents and eight workers have already died from COVID-19, and there are worrying signs that the second wave could be just as deadly.

Analysis by newspapers and other media outlets have found that privately owned long-term care homes – where staffing levels tend to be lower – have suffered much higher infection and death rates.

“It’s tragic that it took a pandemic to finally bring the issue of understaffing and substandard compensation in long-term care homes to the forefront,” said Thomas. “But it would be a travesty if this government fails to act.”

For more information:

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931