The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is calling on the Ford government to act immediately to implement the recommendations in the Long-Term Care-COVID-19 Commission’s final report, released today.
“Government’s utter failure to protect the residents and staff in long-term care homes from COVID-19 is tragic,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “It would be even more of a tragedy if this report sat on a shelf and collected dust, as countless other reports have done. Enough is enough – failure to take action now is not an option.”
McKenna says, “The Commission has made recommendations that would go a long way toward protecting the residents and staff of long-term care homes now and into the future. ONA is grateful that the Commission listened to the stories of our front-line RNs and others who shared their knowledge and experiences. We know how staffing shortages and a lack of direct resident care, infection protection and control, accountability and enforcement and funding enabled COVID-19 to infect thousands of residents and staff. Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton has also acknowledged that airborne spread of COVID-19 – and the failure to provide aerosol protection to care providers – was a key factor in the outbreaks. We also know that profit in long-term care is worse for resident outcomes. ONA will hold this government responsible for its actions and will be unrelenting in our efforts to ensure homes are made safer.”
McKenna notes that those caring for residents were also sickened at a rate far higher than the general population. “Our calls for staff to have access to the highest level of personal protective equipment available were ignored,” she says. “Growing evidence that COVID-19 is airborne, just as we suspected a year ago, means that workers require N95 respirators or better to protect themselves and residents. Our long-term care homes are not out of woods yet and this must be rectified – now.”
McKenna urges every Ontarian to join with nurses and others to hold the government’s feet to the fire and – at long last – enact real change that will provide residents with the care they need and deserve.
ONA’s submission, recommendations and a commissioned report can be viewed here: www.ona.org/commission.