Hundreds of long-term care workers rally at Queen’s Park to demand action on care levels for seniors

Hundreds of long-term care workers from across the province rallied with family members and seniors at Queen’s Park this week to demand the Liberal government bring the Time to Care Act for final reading before the election.

“Our seniors living in long-term care are suffering, and the Liberal government needs to pass the Time to Care Act so that they get the care they need and deserve,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario and a former long-term care worker who has been leading the campaign to bring in the legislation. “Seniors are coming into long-term care older and frailer, with more complex health issues than they once did. There just aren’t enough staff to properly care for them.”

“Right now, workers don’t have the time they need to properly care for our seniors living in long-term care. Staff have to rush through a checklist with each resident. They have no time to listen to them and no time to come when they need help to the bathroom. Residents are being forced into incontinence far sooner than they need to. It’s just not right,” said Rennick. “It’s simply not acceptable that the people who spent their lives building our province and caring for our communities, are now being neglected in their final years.”

Canada has the lowest long-term care levels among countries with equivalent economies, and Ontario has the lowest in Canada. Bill 33 (The Time to Care Act) would legislate a minimum care standard of four hours of hands on care each day.

“It’s almost like residents are on a conveyer belt. Staff have a check list of tasks that need to be done and they literally run from resident to resident checking off the list,” said Kerri Bencich, a long-term care worker in Windsor. “We’re not able to spend time with them to really listen to their individual worries and needs. This no way for our seniors to spend their final years.”

Staff have 5 – 7 minutes to help each resident with all their morning needs – getting out of bed, washed, dressed and help with the bathroom. Staff often don’t have time to help residents walk to the dining room for meals which is leading to a faster loss of mobility.

“We’re all trying our best, but the standards for our elderly in this province are just sad. These are the people who worked all their lives building and caring for our communities – they deserve to live with dignity in their final home,” said Sue Moore, a long-term care worker from Kingston. “Our seniors need action now and the Liberals have to bring make the Time to Care Act law before the spring election.”

Bill 33 received all party support at second reading in November but since then the government has refused to bring it forward for final reading.