Unions that represent frontline health care workers across the long-term care sector issued the below joint statement following the release of Ontario’s long-term care staffing study, attributed to Sharleen Stewart, president, SEIU Healthcare, Candace Rennick, secretary-treasurer, CUPE Ontario, and Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor.

“Today the provincial government received yet another recommendations report on what we’ve already known for years. It’s time for transformational funding commitments and rigorous implementation timelines to ensure health care workers receive the support they need to deliver quality care for our most vulnerable. Unfortunately, Premier Ford’s government has yet to take steps towards funding an action plan to improve the delivery of long-term care. All three unions have long been advocating for a legislated care standard of four hours per resident per day and are urging the government to take immediate steps to pass that into law.

We are pleased that the report echoes our recommendation for a minimum daily average of four hours of direct care per resident, based on hours worked, not hours paid. The next step is ensuring that this has teeth by becoming legislated.

There are constructive, actionable steps that Premier Ford should take now to improve the system:

1.   Ensure that workers are paid at a rate commensurate with their significant contributions
2.   Eliminate Bill 124’s adverse impacts on worker retention
3.   Reverse the previously eliminated paid sick leave
4.   Revise transfer payment agreements with operators to mandate more full-time jobs
5.   Include unions, families and worker advocates in all policy implementation tables

Front-line health care workers are real heroes who have for too-long been exploited by a system that puts profits before care. They need support now, before the fall flu season and before a subsequent spike in COVID-19.

As we all know, long-term care staffing was in crisis prior to the spread of COVID-19, but it’s now on life support after the crushing impacts of the pandemic. Enough talk. We need bold action now.”