Poll finds fixing long-term care a priority for Ontarians, OPSEU says the time for action is now

“The pandemic is showing us that the cost-cutting and understaffing that go hand-in-hand with privatization can also be deadly.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President 

Toronto (18 June) — A new Nanos poll shows that 98% of Ontarians want the government to focus on fixing long-term care. Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) says the first steps are obvious: less privatization and more inspections and staff. 

Ontarians reject path to privatizaton

“We’re all watching in horror as the death toll in our long-term care homes continues to climb. And the homes with the highest death tolls by far all have one thing in common: they’re privately owned or managed,” said Thomas. “One report suggested that people in private homes are four times more likely to die than people in public homes.” 

“It’s clear we need more inspections. And we’ve always said privatization is bad policy,” said Thomas. “The pandemic is showing us that the cost-cutting and understaffing that go hand-in-hand with privatization can also be deadly.” 

The poll of 1,017 Ontarians —conducted by Nanos Research between May 24 and 27 — found that 88% say it’s “important” for the government to prioritize improving long-term care.” Older Ontarians feel even more strongly that long-term care reform is important. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

The poll also asked people how the government can best improve long-term care, and there was a fairly equal split between hiring more staff, increasing inspections, holding a public inquiry, and returning privately owned homes to public control. 

“More than 1,700 long-term care residents and seven workers have died from COVID-19. It’s heart-breaking,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Let’s be blunt: most of these people died because they were in homes where profit is the priority. It has to end – now.” 

“Bringing all long-term care back under public ownership and control is the only way to ensure they’re staffed and inspected properly. It’s the only way to ensure a tragedy like this can never happen again.”

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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