April 28, 2021
TORONTO – Ontario’s auditor general Special Report on Pandemic Readiness and Response in Long-Term Care says due to years of governments neglecting systemic concerns, the government was not prepared or equipped to handle the issues created by the pandemic.
“I welcome this report, but to be honest, workers, residents and families all knew that the sector was on the brink of collapse,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “For decades, workers have been telling governments about the crisis in Ontario’s long-term care sector. The issues of being overworked, short-staffed and not having enough time to care for their residents are nothing new to workers and families. It’s true the Ford government didn’t start the fire in long-term care but they surely poured gas on it.”
According to the report, from March 2020 to December 31, 2020, 76% of long-term-care homes in Ontario reported cases of COVID-19 among their residents and staff. Some of the contributing factors that negatively impacted residents were insufficient staff to provide appropriate care, overcrowding due to hospital patients being transferred into long-term care homes and infection prevention and control measures were not consistently practised in homes, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The physical and mental toll some of Doug Ford’s emergency measures played on residents is truly heartbreaking,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “On one hand, the Premier restricts family visits to residents, but on the other hand allows temporary staff to go work in multiple homes and in some cases further spreading the virus. This Premier needs to put his ego aside and listen to workers, families and health experts to save our long-term care system.”
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk made 16 recommendations to strengthen long-term care homes and how the Ontario government can better respond to the issues emphasized during the pandemic.