KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Kudos to the union leaders who spoke up at the recent Health Committee meeting of the Nova Scotia Legislature. They raised several points, most of which they have been raising well before the pandemic. Here is the video to that meeting:
Nationally, about 81 per cent of COVID-19 related deaths were residents of long-term care homes. In July 2020, a paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that for-profit long-term care homes had a significantly greater number of COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths than non-profit homes. Our seniors deserve better. They deserve better than 2.45 hours of care per day they get today in our province.
The unions have been advocating for a long time to raise that to 4.1 hours of care. Frankly, the deputy minister’s response to that issue was more about looking to justify the government’s inaction on the subject. The system was broken before COVID, but the pandemic has significantly impacted long-term care residents in Nova Scotia.
The system of long-term care in our province is, for the most part, a private for-profit system and that must end. I think it’s fair to say that the residents and staff in long-term feel neglected, based on their treatment and working conditions.
The Liberals have reduced the budget for long term care in Nova Scotia which makes it difficult to ensure that adequate staff and proper infrastructure needs for residents are met.
Numerous reports have called for enhanced staffing levels and more beds in long-term care for years – all ignored by the government.
The Deputy Minister’s comments at that Health Committee meeting at the Legislature are reflective of that failure. Until there is enough staff to meet the need in long term care homes, seniors will continue to suffer.
If our elected leaders won’t fix the problems in long term care now, then it’s time for them to take a walk in the snow. All Nova Scotians know that care for our seniors is an urgent matter, that needs action now.
The pandemic has exposed what’s under the surface, and it runs deep in a system that’s been broken for a long time. The Federation and its affiliated unions will intensify their lobbying to ensure that long-term care must be offered as a public service under the Canada Health Act.
Priorities must be:
– Removing private, for-profit businesses from the sector.
– Bringing long-term care into the public system and regulating it under the Canada Health Act.
– Requiring proper staffing and health and safety protections for workers; and
– Permanently raise wages and benefits for long-term care workers to match the value of the work.
We hope that you will join as we build a campaign to improve long-term care in Nova Scotia. Our Federation will do all we can to make sure our seniors get the care and the respect they deserve when they are in a care facility and make sure governments make better choices when it comes to our seniors.
Danny Cavanagh is president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
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