Workplace violence is not part of the job: Long-Term Care Division fall newsletter

It's my nature to Care: Long Term Care

Message from the Chair

Our political landscape is changing in Ontario. After 15 years of Liberal austerity, many are expressing fear about what another four years of cutbacks will mean for frontline public services, including the long-term care sector.

That’s why it’s more important now than ever to come together in a common shared goal. We must refocus our efforts on defending our members’ jobs, and protecting the public services we work so hard to deliver.

Now is not the time for fear, it’s time to get prepared.

During the recent provincial election, Premier Ford ran on a platform of being “for the people”.  An important part of that platform was the promise of 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years. While we are pleased that Premier Ford has recognized that access to long-term care must be a priority, we have to remain vigilant that all new capacity be public.

We are well aware that a key priority of this new administration is further privatization, which is a threat to quality, accessible and properly regulated care.

Right now in Ontario, there are more than 25,000 people on the waiting list for long-term care. And it’s not just the physical beds that we need, it’s about appropriate staffing levels. It’s about having resident care, and it’s about improving touch time.

OPSEU’s Long-Term Care Division members will continue to demand minimum care standards, and quality public long-term care beds and services that meet population need.

We must fight for improved working conditions, and we must ensure that all long-term care homes are also safe work environments. Nobody should be afraid to go to work. No-one should fear violence or death when they are doing their job.

Workplace violence is not part of the job and must never be tolerated.

So to each and every member in our Long-Term Care Division, we will continue to keep up this fight. To our new Premier: We are the experts on the ground. We can help – let’s talk.

In solidarity, 

Joan Corradetti, Chair
OPSEU Long-Term Care Division

Patient care and worker safety: Two sides of the same coin

OPSEU leaders are involved at every level of the Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table as it moves forward with Phase Two. This is a unique and ambitious provincial undertaking, organized by the Ontario Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which includes the participation of government, unions, employers, patient advocates and other stakeholders.

The 2003 SARS epidemic revealed the vulnerability of frontline health care workers when two nurses and a doctor died by contracting the virus while caring for patients.

Workplace violence is a critical health and safety issue for workers, which includes bullying and harassment as well as physical violence and domestic violence. The bottom line is that workers can’t properly care for patients if their own health and safety is at risk: They are two sides of the same coin.

The Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table was launched in 2015, with a primary focus on hospitals.  Phase One delivered 23 recommendations in 2017. Some of the key ideas include the creation of a workplace safety environmental standard for healthcare workplaces, and amending the Ministry of Labour Policy and Procedure Manual to ensure all risk assessments conducted by hospitals are adequate. The full report can be found online.

Phase Two of Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care focuses specifically on hospitals, home care and long-term care. Pre-planning and consulting for this phase began in March 2017, and stakeholder meetings have been ongoing since July 2017. It is anticipated that a report, recommendations and tools developed in Phase Two will be released in February of 2019.

President Warren (Smokey) Thomas represented OPSEU at the central leadership table for Phase One, and continues to contribute his knowledge and expertise in this role for Phase Two.

“The work we are doing at this table is urgent and has been a long time coming. I sincerely hope this process will reduce the risk of workplace violence for all long-term care workers. Violence in the workplace will not be tolerated. Employers have to take action and be held accountable,” said Thomas.

Joan Corradetti is participating in the Long-Term Care Research and Development Team. OPSEU also has representatives on the Hospitals and Home Care Research and Development Teams. Corradetti reports that the link between patient care and worker safety is the central topic of discussion for the Long-Term Care Research and Development Team. “Our group is developing sector-specific tools and recommendations to prevent workplace violence. These include things like the need for staff training and refresher training.”

Employers have a responsibility to help prevent workplace violence

Amendments to the OHSA in 2010 mean there is a lot more employer responsibility to prevent violence in the workplace.

First of all, employers must establish workplace violence and harassment policies, and post them in the workplace.

Employers should assess the risk of violence in their workplaces, and create measures and procedures to control the risks.

They are also responsible for establishing measures and procedures for employees to report incidents and how they can summon immediate assistance. Employers must investigate and deal with all incidents and complaints.

As union members, we can help hold employers to account. Report your concerns to your Joint Health and Safety Committee union representative or your local executive. Your union wants to hear from you.

Workplace safety tips for frontline workers

  1. Pay attention to warning signs
  2. Eliminate potential weapons
  3. Know your violence response procedures
  4. Trust your instincts
  5. Use a team approach
  6. Be familiar with your workplace harassment policies and reporting systems
  7. Remember that effective communication and awareness are key in preventing workplace violence

Our newest Long-Term Care members’ hopes have become a reality

We are happy to welcome Long-Term Care sector members at Champlain Manor Retirement Residence in Orillia.

President Warren (Smokey) Thomas praised OPSEU’s newest members for showing tenacity and commitment in their fight to join the union.

These 86 members spent a year-and-a-half trying to join OPSEU’s family and their hopes have now become a reality.

“In these uncertain political times it just makes sense to be represented by our union, which has a proven track record in protecting its members’ jobs,” Thomas said.  “These members realized it’s smart to be on a ship that can handle stormy seas.”

Joan Corradetti, Chair of OPSEU’s Long-Term Care sector, offered a warm welcome to these newest members. “It’s been a long time coming, but life is about to change for the better for workers at Champlain Manor. They now have a real voice in their workplace.”

Workers at Champlain Manor include Registered Nurses, housekeepers, personal support workers, guest attendants, clerical support, and numerous other staff who provide services in this assisted living community which serves Simcoe County.

Brought to you by OPSEU’s Long-Term Care Division Executive

Joan Corradetti, Chair
Shannon Nolan, Vice Chair
Terri-Lyn Long, Treasurer
William Stanton, Secretary
Corrina Cadeau, Communications Coordinator