Toronto – The key final recommendations from the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission have been long demanded by OPSEU/SEFPO. President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the findings add up to one obvious conclusion: for-profit Long-Term Care must go.

“Anyone can see that facilities where profits come before people is an obstacle to having a sector where our most vulnerable citizens can live in safety and dignity,” said Thomas. “We need public control of Long-Term Care and for-profit facilities have to go.”

The commission’s final report released last Friday made 85 recommendations, many of which are consistent with OPSEU/SEFPO’s demands for increased staffing levels, better working conditions, more rigorous inspection and enforcement, increased investment in staff and infrastructure, stepped up training, improved access to community and home care and minimum care standards.

“We’ve made some of the same recommendations during the pandemic, and for years before COVID-19,” said Thomas. “The commission clearly saw that front-line workers have many of the solutions that would have prevented this tragedy and we can use their know-how to come out of this pandemic with a first-class Long-Term Care system. We are glad to see our submission to the commission reflected in the final report.”

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says Ontario’s public colleges should play a vital role in providing training to new workers to bolster staffing levels in facilities and for community care.

“The government has taken some encouraging steps in providing funding to our public colleges to provide training for staff like PSWs but this needs to be properly expanded to blanket Long-Term Care staff needs,” said Almeida. “Long-Term Care is a rare case of where we should put all our eggs in one basket; the public basket.”

Precision is of the utmost importance in taking action on the commission’s findings said Thomas, who noted that Long-Term Care is still very much in the danger zone with the third wave of the pandemic.

“The crisis in Long-Term Care has been heartbreaking for all of us and I’ve had many sleepless nights thinking about the people who died and our front-line heroes who risked their lives trying to keep our most vulnerable citizens alive,” said Thomas. “I am asking for a meeting with the Premier this week to develop a plan to turn the inquiry’s recommendations into action.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931