All out for the Day of Action on October 8

The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) fully supports the demands of the Ontario Health Coalition. Our members are participating in the October 8th Day of Action to call attention to the Province’s tragically inadequate response to the needs of Long-Term Care (LTC) homes who are now facing the second wave of Covid19.

The Health Coalition has reported that there are already over fifty outbreaks in LTC homes across the province, the largest at Ottawa’s Extendicare West End Villa, where already over one hundred staff and residents have been infected and nineteen have died. There are outbreaks at five other Extendicare homes in Ottawa.

We have now been able to study what happened during the first wave of Covid19 in the spring. Canada had the highest mortality rate in LTC among seventeen OECD countries that were assessed with 81% of all Covid19 deaths taking place in LTC homes. In addition, residents in for-profit LTC homes were four times more likely to die from Covid19 than those in non-profit homes. The July Canadian Medical Association Journal said that recent research has concluded for profit homes “tend to deliver inferior care” – described as “lower levels in quality of staffing, more complaints from residents and families, higher rates of emergency department visits, more acute care hospital admissions and higher mortality rates.”

In contrast to both British Columbia and Quebec, Ontario has not made any fundamental investment to meet the demands of the second wave. In June, the Quebec government launched and carried through with their plan to recruit and train Personal Support Workers (PSW) to meet the demands of the anticipated fall second wave. PSW’s were paid $21/hour for training and are now receiving $26/hour to work in LTC homes. BC raised the PSW wages to $21.75 and have developed full-time jobs in the homes. In Ontario, there has been no systemic response to the crisis at all.

In addition, there is an enormous testing backlog in Ontario, workers in LTC are still overworked and may be less resilient to deal with the stress of a repeat of spring’s tragedy. At the same time, private LTC homes have continued to pay large dividends to their shareholders instead of investing in the resources needed to protect the lives of staff and residents in these privatized homes. Baba Aye, the Health and Social Sector Officer with Public Services International recently called the privatization and cuts to healthcare “the leprous hands of neoliberal capitalism” that allow “private corporations to walk away with billions that should have been used to invest in people’s social needs.”   

A recent poll found that 86% of the Canadian public supports making all LTC facilities public. At the federal level, we wholeheartedly support the call of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to “Make Revera Public.” Revera is entirely owned by the Pension Sector Pensions (PSP) Investment Board, which is the investment entity of the pension funds of federal public service workers, the RCMP, Canadian Forces and Reserves. The pension fund owns Revera on a private equity basis which means they have no obligation to report their finances to anyone.  No one knows just how much profit Revera siphons out of its long-term care facilities by reducing quality of care, safety and lowering staff wages. The transfer of one LTC provider from private to public ownership is, however, not enough. The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) demands that all for-profit LTC homes be transferred to public hands immediately.

The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) demands the government:

  • take profit out of all aspects of health by expanding universal healthcare to include dental care, vision care, pharmacare, mental health and long-term care;
  • expand funding to LTC;
  • allow for compassionate and humane standards of care for their residents;
  • increase the salaries of all LTC workers;
  • consolidate all part-time positions to full-time;
  • provide any and all additional resources needed to halt the COVID-19 outbreak in LTC homes;
  • ensure that all staff in long-term care facilities be given proper PPE, including N95 masks and that all staff have comprehensive training in the use of PPE;
  • issue an order for all residents and staff in long-term care be tested regularly for the COVID-19;
  • carry out comprehensive inspections in all LTC homes;
  • carry out the public take-over and expansion of operations producing medical supplies and equipment;
  • enact heavy penalties including jail time against theft or profiteering on the production and sale of medical supplies and equipment;
  • ensure that pharmaceutical companies, long-term care corporations, producers of medical equipment and supplies, and others that are vital to public health be put under public ownership and democratic control.

For details on the Ontario Health Coalition’s Day of Action for Long-Term Care and how to join actions visit here.

Categories: Health