TORONTO – Today’s announcement that the Ontario Ombudsman will investigate provincial monitoring of long-term care homes is a positive step “to improving care quality for residents as long as André Marin looks at the right things,” says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“While we welcome Ombudsman Marin’s investigation, we encourage Mr. Marin to look closely at the endemic lack of accountability that pervades the industry, particularly in the for-profit sector,” says Ryan. “Money is going in, but care levels are not rising accordingly. Mr. Marin needs to get to the bottom of why that’s happening, and why our call for minimum care standards is being rejected by the McGuinty government.”
CUPE and others have raised the problem with how the province tracks and monitors the number of hours of hands-on care patients receive. Ontario calculates this based on number of hours paid, but other provinces such as New Brunswick base it on number of hours worked, which provides a more accurate picture.
Ryan noted that Marin’s investigation, while potentially good news for residents and families, is needed only because of Liberal neglect. Former health minister George Smitherman promised three times over four years to bring in minimum standards of care, but then reneged.
Recently, Smitherman had the opportunity to enact a regulated hands-on care standard, but opted instead to adopt the weak report by consultant Shirlee Sharkey that explicitly rejects minimum standards of care.
“The Liberal government promised a “revolution” in long-term care, but all we see is a regression,” Ryan said. “So while we support Ombudsman Marin’s investigation, we regret that the McGuinty government chose not to introduce minimum standards of hands-on care to make the real difference for residents and families. They blew it.”
It remains to be seen whether new health minister David Caplan will clean up Smitherman’s mess, Ryan said.
CUPE represents nearly 25,000 long-term care front line staff province-wide, who must be protected with whistle-blower protection from any reprisals for speaking out during Marin’s review.
Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, 416-209-0066
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, 613-878-1431