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Long-term bill must include minimum standard of care

Jan 17, 2007 03:38 PM
 

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Front line caregivers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are calling on the Liberal government to make it the law that every resident of every long-term care facility receives three-and-a-half hours of care every day. They say the Liberal government needs to address appalling conditions in the care of elderly and frail residents by standing up to operators of homes who oppose minimum standards of care.

“Our front line caregivers witness appalling conditions in long-term care homes due to a lack of funding and inadequate levels of staffing,” says Sue Schmidt, Chair of CUPE’s Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee. “These are your family members, seniors and loved ones. Many of them built this country and they deserve better care.”

The Liberal government is proposing a new law for Ontario’s nursing homes, homes for the aged and rest homes. However, CUPE says that Bill 140, which will replace three major pieces of legislation affecting almost 75,000 residents in these facilities, provides no minimum standard of care.

“Alberta provides every long-term care resident with three-and-a-half hours of care each day,” says Schmidt, “Other provinces, like New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, are aiming for this standard. Yet in Ontario, our caregivers are struggling to provide the daily care required by each resident within the couple of hours allotted by their facility.”

While the Liberals have said that their proposed bill will treat each resident individually to provide the levels of care needed, CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan says that the issue requires a more comprehensive approach. “All the case management techniques in the world won’t provide the care required if you don’t have enough front line caregivers,” he says.

“With seniors facing appalling levels of care in some homes, the Liberal government should not be succumbing to facility operators—particularly for-profit operators—who oppose minimum standards of care and whose interests are profit-making at the expense of the elderly and frail,” says Ryan.

“This Bill also needs to set out a funding model that will ensure adequate front line staffing to meet care standards, and provide the assurance to Ontarians that their tax dollars are funding front line care for residents, not increasing profits.”

Along with better whistle blower protection for workers who speak out on care issues, CUPE wants the legislation to recognize that these facilities are not just homes; they are workplaces to thousands of care workers and caregivers.

“There has been a 10-fold increase in violence in these facilities due to age-related dementia and chronically progressive diseases. Bill 140 must set out specific amendments requiring that homes be safe and secure for both residents and staff,” adds Ryan.

CUPE is calling on its 220,000 members across Ontario, as well as concerned families, to call for more public hearings by demonstrating in front of MPP constituency offices on Friday January 26. Seventy-three groups have been shut out of the current hearings in Toronto (January 16-17), Kingston (January 22), Sudbury (January 23) and London (January 24) due to lack of space.

“Baby boomers are headed into a future where they may someday need to enter a nursing home,” says Schmidt. “It’s in all our interests to get Bill 140 right, for now and for the future.”

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For further information, contact:

Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications 647-225-3685
Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario 416-209-0066