"The Wettlaufer killings of 8 residents in Ontario long-term care have thrown light on the inadequate care being provided to elderly residents in these facilities. Our elderly and infirm people deserve better; profit should not be dictating staffing levels and quality of care.”— Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (15 Aug. 2019) — Governments across the country should be paying attention to the recent report from the commission on the Wettlaufer killings in Ontario’s long-term care facilities. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) believes that the inquiry compels us to address some of the structural problems in the way Canada deals with long-term care. Canada has an aging population, and the need for health care for the aged will only increase going forward.
Long-term care is health care
Long-term care is part of our health care system, but unfortunately it is not actually included in Canada's public health care system. This allows the proliferation of private providers who are focused on profit and shareholders, not on the needs of their patients. This also results in a lack of public funding of the system, which contributes to chronic understaffing, leaving patients vulnerable.
More staffing needed now
The Ontario inquiry has recognized the problems with staffing at these facilities, but has recommended a one-year study on appropriate staffing levels in long-term care homes. This is a positive step, but it is clear that staffing increases and the funding to hire more staff are needed now. Governments should be heeding this advice and investing more now to ensure patients receive proper care.
Ford govt. headed in wrong direction
Immediately following the release of the inquiry’s 1,500-page report, the Ontario Conservative government announced a 3-month delay in cuts to funding for long-term care that had been announced in the provincial budget. Stalling bad policy for 3 months shows that this government is headed in the wrong direction and understands nothing of the structural problems highlighted by the report. Cutting funds to long-term care when an aging population presents an increasing demand for services shows that this government does not care for the needs of vulnerable seniors and others who require long-term care.
Public solutions needed
Health care does not stop at the hospital door or the doctor's examination room. It is well past time that Canada adopted a comprehensive and integrated health care system. This means ensuring long-term care and home care abide by the principles of the Canada Health Act, and it means implementing public pharmacare. This means universal, accessible, portable, comprehensive and publicly administered health care. It is time to scrap the ineffective patchwork system and the approach to long-term care that we have in Canada, where many who need care fall through the cracks.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE