UNIFOR welcomes Ombudsman probe of provincial long term care oversight
Unifor welcomed an Ontario Ombudsman investigation into the provincial government’s oversight of long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias said the pandemic publicly exposed the precariousness of the long-term care system.
He added if nursing homes were properly staffed, especially with personal support workers, the long term care facilities would have been in a much better position to weather a pandemic.
Six months ago, the Ontario Health Coalition report commissioned by Unifor “Caring in Crisis; Ontario’s Personal Support Worker Crisis” was released at Queens Park. Dias says the report raised the alarm over chronic short-staffing and the mass exodus of PSWs leaving the industry.
As that report was released, Dias issued a challenge to Premier Doug Ford to spend one shift with him in a nursing home to see first-hand the everyday realities faced by workers and residents.
“While we appreciate any effort that puts the spotlight on what is happening in long-term care, it is disappointing that the voices of so many women on the frontlines have been ignored for so long,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “We can only hope that the Ombudsman will focus on listening to those women now.”
The union believes the pandemic has lit fire to a tinder box of problems, where PSW’s are first on the front lines. “No-one should be surprised that eight out of the 11 health care workers who have died from COVID-19 in Ontario are PSWs, who provide the most personal of care, with the least access to personal protective equipment,” said Dias.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future. Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.