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At a news conference on Dec. 5, two authors of a report on the recent legionnaire’s disease outbreak at a Toronto home for the aged praised the staff at Seven Oaks for their “exemplary” behaviour and the union for its response to the crisis.

CUPE 79 agreed to let 19 staff from other city-owned facilities to work at Seven Oaks to protect members and help Seven Oaks deal with the crisis.

We are incredibly proud of our members in the homes for the aged,” says Ann Dembinski. “They were more concerned about the residents than about their own health and welfare. We are also proud of the performance of our members who work in Toronto’s public health division, including workers in the healthy environment and communicable disease control sections, all of whom had tough jobs during the crisis.”

The final report emphasizes that Seven Oaks was able to manage staffing levels during the crisis because it is part of a network of long-term care facilities owned by the city. It says that other homes might not find it as easy to bring in staff from outside.

The report makes a number of recommendations including calling for higher staffing levels in long-term care facilities and public health in general. The report is very critical of cuts to provincial health care, including labs, coroner’s facilities, and staffing levels, legacies of the Harris regime. The authors also expressed concerns that the McGuinty government is not moving quickly enough to implement recommendations following the 2003 SARS epidemic.

Report Card: Progress in Protecting the Public’s Health