QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan Judith Monteith-Farrell is calling on the Ford government to immediately make major changes and investments in long-term care and home care to save seniors in Thunder Bay from infection with the deadly COVID-19 virus.
As a result of decades of chronic neglect, long-term care and home care across Ontario were already facing damaging underfunding and understaffing before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, there have been dozens of outbreaks in long-term care homes across the province.
“Seniors and their families in Thunder Bay are terrified thinking about what will happen next,” said Monteith-Farrell. “We’ve been underfunded and understaffed in the nursing homes here in Thunder Bay for years — and we have to leap into action to save more residents today. Our vulnerable seniors need us, and we have a responsibility to protect them. We must make sure that the outbreaks spreading like wildfire in long-term care facilities across Ontario don't happen here.”
The Official Opposition NDP is calling for major changes and investments, including:
- Aggressively recruiting home care and long-term care staff
- Mandate that more staff be scheduled on each shift in each long-term care home
- Immediately increase salaries for staff to a minimum of $22/hr in order to retain and attract workers, including Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs)
- Assign each staff member to one facility only, and ensure they have full-time hours, to eliminate the potential for staff to transmit COVID-19 to other facilities, ending all exceptions
- Standardize visitor policies province-wide to prevent COVID-19 transmission from visitors and volunteers, seeking Public Health determination on the safest policy
- Mandate that home care workers wear personal protective equipment — including gloves and a mask based on the precautionary principle — for every home visit, to avoid transmission from one vulnerable client to another, and mandate long-term care staff wear PPE any time they’re with residents
- Create a caregiver fund to support families that choose to care for their loved one at home.
In 2019, several reports highlighted the under-staffing crisis in Ontario’s long-term care sector, including the “Caring in Crisis: Ontario’s Long-Term Care PSW Shortage” report (December 2019), “Breaking Point: Violence Against Long-Term Care Staff” (March 2019), and “Bloodied, Broken and Burned Out: 88% of Long-Term Care Staff Experience Violence” (March 2019).
Media contact: Jodie Shupac, 416-806-9147