TORONTO, ON – There is cautious optimism from Ontario’s largest health care union – the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario – following a provincial government announcement today that promises money for long-term care homes to hire additional staff now and a four-hour care standard in a new revamped Long-Term Care Homes Act.
“While the devil is in details,” says CUPE Ontario secretary-treasurer Candace Rennick, “we are encouraged to learn that this government is finally taking the necessary step of enshrining the four hours of hand- on care commitment into legislation. This is an important and long-awaited step, but it will not in itself achieve our goals without a plan to deal with retention and recruitment of front-line staff.
Based on what CUPE has learned, the new Act will eventually provide the full force of law to a four-hour care standard and that bedside care from personal support workers, registered practical nurses and registered nurses will mean higher and better-quality care for our most vulnerable citizens. There are assurances from the Ministry of Long-Term Care that the actual hours that front-line staff work will be the funding mechanism they use. This is an important building block to fixing long-term care.
Rennick is again calling for a sector-wide comprehensive plan that will improve wages and working conditions for long-term care staff so they will stay in the sector and new workers will want to work in long-term care. While the pandemic made visible to all the understaffing crisis, long-term care homes have been unable to retain the existing workforce or attract new for some time now. “We are losing workers from the sector faster than we can train and recruit them and we will not be able to reach our targets to implement a four-hour care standard without a robust strategy that focuses on making long-term care a sector where people want to work”.
CUPE will be looking very carefully at the wording in the new legislation to make sure that it actually mandates the four-hour care standard that we have been advocating for all these years advises Rennick.
“Care quality that dignifies residents in their final years of life is a shared goal but there must political will to make that happen. Working conditions are care conditions and if we hope to enhance the quality of life at the bedside we must also take meaningful and immediate steps to make conditions better for those who provide that care with full-time jobs, better wages and manageable workloads,” Rennick says.
For more information contact:
Aline Patcheva CUPE Communications [email protected] 416-885-7382