Ontario Nurses’ Association Expects Full Public Inquiry Into Long-Term Care

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A statement from the Ontario Nurses’ Association:

While the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) awaits the details of the Government’s announcement of the Commission that will look into Ontario’s long-term care system, it also urges that the review be a full public inquiry that is truly independent.

ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, says, “This province has known for quite some time that this sector suffers from chronic underfunding, chronic understaffing and that many of the for-profit corporations that operate these homes value profit over care. There has been a great deal of complacency around fixing the system.

“Not all Commissions are created equal,” McKenna says, “and we expect to see a full public inquiry that is truly independent. We need to get to the bottom of what led to the rampant devastation of residents and health-care workers in long-term care homes across the province.” McKenna notes that “those who choose to work in long-term care, despite the level of medical and cognitive conditions of residents, are paid lower wages and fewer benefits than nurses and health-care professionals working in hospitals.”

ONA has conducted a survey of its members working in long-term care, where 65 per cent of respondents tell us they are not being paid for lost wages. In addition, 64 per cent are not being given full-time hours, even when they have given up a second part-time position as directed, and may not qualify to receive the province’s lump sum payment (conditional on working more than 100 hours in one of the four-week designated periods).

“The scope and authority will be key to the outcome of this inquiry,” says McKenna. “Ontario has held multiple inquiries into long-term care – most recently, the Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in Long-Term Care. However, substantive changes to improve the long-term care sector have yet to be seen.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has sickened and killed vulnerable residents across the province, as well as the health care providers who work in these homes. “ONA and many others have made recommendations time and again to fix this sector,” McKenna says. “It is now time for action. ONA urges the government to support an official and independent inquiry, which has the full authority to run a public hearing with all the powers available under the Public Inquiries Act. Residents, families, and health care workers need to be heard.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry. For more information, visit the ONA website, or visit the ONA on social media through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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