Despite the Ontario government’s promises to deal with the crisis in staffing in long-term care, 94% of the workplace leaders of the 200 long-term care facilities represented by CUPE polled this week report that the situation has actually worsened.
Ontario had the country’s lowest staff-to-long-term care resident ratio before the government’s policy restricting workers to one site dramatically reduced the available workforce even further.
“Recruiting has begun to fill the 10,000 personal support worker positions announced by the Quebec government,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “Quebec has also established a minimum salary of $25.00 an hour, benefits and pension coverage and has committed to full-time employment. No obvious advertising or recruitment of personal support workers has happened to date in Ontario, and we have seen no plan about how the government plans to bring the workforce to full-time employment. While the government takes its time addressing the crisis, our union’s leadership in long-term care facilities reports that the situation has worsened and is unsustainable.”
Over one half of the long-term care workforce is part-time and most had jobs at multiple facilities to pay their bills. Many full-time staff also worked at more than one institution for that reason. 85% of the workforce is female and 40% head single family households. In the spring the government prohibited staff from working at multiple facilities which dramatically worsened a staffing crisis brought on by consistent underfunding.
“47 long-term care facilities and 35 retirement homes are in COVID-19 outbreak and are barely coping,” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-CUPE. “Outside of the outbreak facilities, the pattern of staff working regularly for 12-16 hours a day cannot continue much longer. We need to see a concrete plan from the government to recruit and to provide full-time employment with benefits and pensions and to raise wages across all of occupations. Adjusting just the wages of PSW’s, as the government has done until March, may drive registered practical nurses, some of whom will earn only marginally more, to look for employment elsewhere.”
CUPE represents 40,000 long-term care staff working at 200 facilities. The poll of union leadership was conducted October 6.