OFL to Ford Government: Fix long-term care now

TORONTO, April 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In advance of the May 1 #FixLTCFord online day of action, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and unions representing Ontario’s health and long-term care workers demand the Ontario government implement stronger controls in home care, long-term care, retirement and community care facilities. Labour calls on the government to end the growth of precarious work by ensuring personal support workers have permanently improved working conditions – including fair wages, universal access to workers’ compensation, benefits, and paid leaves. The Ford government must adopt a strict adherence to the precautionary principle, and immediately order, the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and training on how to use it across the care sector. It must also consult with labour on needed changes to regulations and employment standards for the sector.
“Long-term care homes in Ontario have faced chronic underfunding for many years. The labour movement has sounded the alarm for decades. What we are seeing during the pandemic in Ontario is the effect of those funding choices: the spread of COVID-19 across long-term care,” said OFL president Patty Coates. “This is a sector that was overstretched long before COVID-19. Now, residents and workers are dying because of the government’s inaction on improving conditions in long term care.”“The government must mandate a permanent standardization of pay to the top wage rates in the sector, full time schedules, improved access to benefits and adequate paid leaves for personal support workers,” said Coates.The OFL supports the Ontario Health Coalition’s proposed improvements to the government’s action plan in long-term care facilities, and will be participating in the Health Coalition’s #FixLTCFord online day of action on May 1, 2020.“Workers need the protection of N-95 respirators or better, not just surgical masks. They need gloves, face shields, gowns and other protections. These should not be rationed, nor should disposable respirators be reused because doing so contributes to the increase in the number of health care workers suffering from COVID-19,” said Coates. “Personal support workers play a vital role in keeping Ontarians healthy and safe. It’s time that the province regulates the long-term care industry to protect residents, workers, and all Ontarians.”Bill C-45, also known as the Westray Bill, amended the Criminal Code to include special criminal negligence provisions for companies that disregard the health and safety of workers. The intent was to hold employers criminally liable for the deaths of workers.“Employers that neglect the health and safety of their workers must be subject to the full force of the law. Section 22.1 and 217.1 of the criminal code must be enforced,” said Coates. “The Ford Conservatives, like previous governments, have allowed long term care facilities to rake in huge profits while providing a bare minimum of care to residents, and minimum pay and work stability to staff. That has to end, permanently.”On April 9, in a press conference, OFL President Patty Coates called on the government to end the PPE shortage by ordering business to manufacture protective equipment, and the OFL reiterates that call today.The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.For more information, please contact:Meagan Perry
Communications Director
Ontario Federation of Labour
[email protected] | 416-894-3456
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