Long Term Care Crisis Demands Radical Change, CLAC Says
Cambridge, ON—Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) staff have revealed harrowing details in a report about their experiences in Ontario long term care homes, where they were assigned to provide help during the COVID-19 pandemic. They describe homes in poor conditions, compromised care, and diminished resident dignity—in some cases with tragic consequences.
The events unfolding in the homes have lifted the veil on a long, ongoing crisis in the system that has gone largely unnoticed by the general public, until now. Many of the heart-wrenching concerns raised in the CAF report are ghastly symptoms of a deeper malaise, the resulting effect of a system that has been under-resourced for decades.
“Ontarians are rightly outraged by the Canadian Armed Forces report on the problems found in these long term care homes,” says Michael Reid, the healthcare coordinator for CLAC, a union that represents 8,000 healthcare workers. “We are all deeply saddened to read these first-hand accounts, and our hearts go out to the families and the residents. Workers have warned for years that long term care is in a state of crisis. It breaks our hearts to see the consequences of a system that’s been left in such disrepair.”
There are no excuses for neglect and abuse. But thousands of dedicated healthcare workers across the province go the extra mile for their patients every day, even as they struggle with the added COVID-19 threat. CLAC is urging the government and the citizens of Ontario not to lay blame at the feet of those who keep doing their best, for little pay and at great personal cost. The system is failing them, too.
As the union representing the employees of Grace Manor at Holland Christian Homes, CLAC is concerned by the findings of the military staff. Although the problems identified in this home were less dire, they reflect many of the concerns the union has raised, including training on proper use of personal protective equipment, excessive use of agency staff, and ensuring proper infection control to protect both residents and staff.
We urge Premier Doug Ford, members of his cabinet, and every elected official and public servant to turn their outrage into action. A commission will serve us well to understand how this pandemic was able to ravage these facilities. But we also need radical change in long term care, and we need it soon.
If we are to achieve sustainable and meaningful improvement, the root causes of the crisis in long term care must be treated. Our elders, healthcare workers, and all Ontarians deserve nothing less.