Ontario Healthcare Crisis: Action Needed Now
CLAC’s January 2020 submission to the provincial government and the Ontario Health Care Coalition’s recent study highlight similar issues and solutions. There’s a critical shortage of PSWs and the problem is only going to get worse.
Cambridge, ON—Numerous studies and submissions from different groups all point to the same thing: there’s a serious crisis in long term care in Ontario, and something needs to be done about it.
CLAC’s January 2020 submission to the provincial government and the Ontario Health Care Coalition’s recent study highlight similar issues and solutions. There’s a critical shortage of personal support workers (PSWs) and the problem is only going to get worse. “With the number of people needing care growing, and the type of care needed more acute, more workers are desperately needed,” says CLAC’s Ontario Director Ian DeWaard. “But with poor wages, minimal wage increases, demanding work, and almost daily abuse associated with that work, it’s a profession that is likely to see its numbers continue to dwindle rather than grow.”
CLAC’s submission notes that without a solution to funding and staffing shortages in long term care, the government will struggle to fulfil its commitment to end hallway healthcare. Operators of these facilities are already unable to attract and retain qualified staff, and this is in advance of any of the 15,000 new beds that have been promised.
CLAC makes the following recommendations for long term care.
1. Reduce redundant and unnecessary data collection and develop policies that require documentation by exception (for front-line caregivers) that limits daily charting to exceptional behaviours and activities. The mandate should be to reduce red tape and redirect the time saved to enhance resident care and health outcomes.
2. Introduce a regulation that would require long term care homes to provide technology to front-line workers that enables the optimal use of electronic charting systems and provide funding for same.
3. Mandate four hours of daily hands-on care per resident in long term care facilities across the province, and provide the funding to support it.
4. Convene a multistakeholder group with a mandate to determine what factors are impacting attraction and retention of workers in this sector and to develop strategies, practices, and policies that will attend to these challenges.
5. Increase the number of long term care beds to meet current and future long term care needs.
6. Eliminate the one percent cap on wages for workers at not-for-profit homes within the long term care sector.
7. Introduce PSW wage enhancement funding.
CLAC has long had its fingers on the pulse of problems in long term care. In late 2019, we commissioned a report by Cardus on the issues in Ontario’s long term care system. In a 2019 submission to the government, we noted that wage rates have fallen by just over six percent over the past 10 years for 83 percent of PSWs in Ontario long term care homes, and encouraged the government to avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy regarding its proposal to use legislated caps on allowable compensation increases.