Front-line workers in Peel’s long-term care homes who are members of CUPE 966 are publicly lauding Regional Council for its collaborative approach to the staffing crisis and listening to their appeals for more full-time resident care staff.

In a letter sent to the municipal council on January 31, CUPE 966 commended Peel Region for “immense leadership” in creating 20 additional full-time positions amidst great suffering in long-term care homes due to the pandemic, where higher staffing levels are associated with better quality of care and prevention of deaths from COVID-19.

“This is the right move on the part of Regional Council. Higher staffing levels will help alleviate the exhaustion and burnout that many registered practical nurses, personal support workers, dietary, cleaning, and other staff at Peel region homes are dealing with following nearly two years of pandemic work,” says Salil Arya, president of CUPE 966.

The letter highlights, what is essentially “a good news story, one of cooperation between our union and regional council, which we believe will bring immeasurable benefits to care quality for residents living in our long-term care homes and the front-line staff who provide that care,” Arya wrote.

CUPE 966 represents over 900 nurses, personal support workers, dietary aides, and other staff in four of the region’s five long-term care homes: Sheridan Villa, Peel Manor, Malton Village and Tall Pines.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Peel has added 57 full-time employees to its staffing complement across the five homes. However, 37 of these jobs are temporary as part of Peel’s COVID-response strategy, which CUPE 966 wants to be converted into permanent positions. 

The CUPE 966 letter further highlights Peel’s historical and ongoing investment in staffing and innovation in piloting a dementia care project, urging the regional council to continue playing a leadership role in a sector plagued by chronic underfunding by provincial governments and profit-taking by corporate actors. 

“Municipal long-term care homes have always provided far better care to residents than our counterparts in the private sector, and that’s been particularly true in the pandemic But, we urge the Region to do more, invest more in additional full-time work in our homes and better resident care,” Arya says, pointing to the fact that for-profit homes had five times as many deaths in the pandemic as municipal homes.

“Many of us live and work this community, including those on Regional Council and at the administration level. We are all invested in our public services. For-profit long-term have other priorities such as shareholder profits.”