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TORONTO, Ont. – With fresh revelations that over 60 per cent of long-term care homes violate provincial standards, unions representing long-term care workers called, once again, for an enforceable minimum care standard of 3.5 hours of hands-on care at a media conference on July 8. 

“How do you solve a problem like poor quality in our long-term care homes?  With minimum standards that the government enforces, not with vague reports that will only set up more deregulation and perpetuate lack of accountability,” said Sid Ryan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.  Ryan was referring to the Liberals’ recent acceptance of a provincially commissioned report by consultant and former home care industry lobbyist Shirlee Sharkey, which rejects a minimum standard of care. 

CUPE Ontario has undertaken an analysis of the Sharkey Report (see below) and has called for an outright rejection of the report by government. Its analysis demonstrates that the report recommendations—which the government has accepted—will lead the long-term care sector into more deregulation and privatization.

Four of the unions that represent workers in the long-term care sector – CUPE, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) – came together to issue a clear rejection of the Liberal government’s failure to enact the real long-term solution for improving care in long-term care facilities:  enforceable minimum standards.

“SEIU Local 1 Canada surveys continue to show that private nursing homes in many cases still offer less than 2.25 hours of resident care per day, the standard the Harris government eliminated and a standard Dalton McGuinty promised SEIU prior to the 2003 provincial election the Liberals would restore,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of the Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada. “Nursing home residents need a minimum of 3.5 hours of daily care implemented immediately across all nursing homes. No resident should have to wait another three years to see if vague government promises will turn into reality”.

“Voluntary “guidelines” won’t improve the quality of care for our seniors,” said Vicki McKenna, RN, First Vice-President of ONA.  “The increasing care needs of residents mean they need the experience and skills of RNs on their care team, and guidelines just don’t cut it. Only an enforceable minimum standard of 3.5 hours of hands-on care will ensure they are receiving the care they need.”

The Ontario government promised to introduce a regulated standard of care but then trotted out a vague report that will only lead to a further decline in care quality, said Patty Rout, First Vice-President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

“Shirlee Sharkey’s recommendations will take us down the road of less accountability and more deregulation,” said Rout.  “But what do you expect from a home care industry lobbyist?  Scrap her report, and bring in enforceable long-term care standards.  Our seniors don’t deserve this sham to continue one moment longer.”

For more information, contact:

David Robbins, CUPE Communications  613-878-1431 (cell)
Jacob Leibovitch, SEIU       416-347-4906 (cell)
Sheree Bond, ONA         416-964-8833 ext. 2430
David Cox, OPSEU Communications   416-788-9197 (cell)


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