'The conditions of work have never been worse'
Ontario has announced that it will be hiring more than 4,000 long-term care workers this year as part of the government's plan to improve the assistance provided to seniors. A total of 4,050 workers will be hired by the government by the end of March, The Toronto Star reported, citing an announcement from Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips. The hiring blitz is part of the government's increased funding for the sector and will help meet the target of providing three hours of direct care to long-term care residents per day by March.
"I announced that our government will be providing up to $270 million to long-term care homes across the province to increase direct care for residents," said Phillips. "This funding also supports an increase of direct care provided by allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists and social workers, by 20% over two years.”
Phillips said the target is to provide four-hour long care for residents by 2025, with a legislation to be introduced this fall to make the four-hour duration a standard for residents.
The chief of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association Donna Duncan welcomed the initiative of the government to improve the long-term care sector, adding that it will take everyone's efforts to expand the workforce and care teams, Ontario Star reported. However, the SEUI Healthcare, a union representing 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, gave a mixed response to toward the programme.
"As we review details of the proposed legislation, we’re pleased Minister Phillips is taking this step. He has so far been open to discussion and we commit to working with him to get this policy right," said union president Sharleen Stewart.
The union called out the lack of plans to improve the "abhorrent conditions of work" inside Ontario's long-term care homes.
"Workers have been clear that they need full-time jobs with benefits and fair wages to support them in these skilled jobs. Because the conditions of work have never been worse, new trainees and hires are fleeing within days or weeks. This is the real obstacle to fixing long-term care," said Stewart.
The SEUI stressed that families cannot wait until 2025 to receive better long-term care.
"It is inexcusable that families will have to wait four or five years to achieve better standards. Care can’t wait until 2025 for safe work and dignified long-term care."
They urged Premier Doug Ford's government to hike the minimum pay for low-income workers to $25 per hour, and to $35 per hour for practical nurses.