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MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, July 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Following the Ontario government’s announcement of its commission and staffing study into the province’s long-term care homes, Locals 175 & 633 of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) calls on the government to take immediate action to improve the industry.

“While it is important to review what happened leading up to and during the pandemic, what the industry needs right now is what families, residents, workers, and advocates have been demanding for a long time – long before COVID-19,” said Shawn Haggerty, President of UFCW Local 175. “For years, our Union has been pressing our government for real change to address conditions and employment in the industry, including chronic understaffing and underfunding.”

On Wednesday, the government announced details of the commission to study COVID-19’s impact on long-term care homes in Ontario, with a report due by the end of April 2021. Today, the government also released a report from a recent study of the industry which highlighted the staffing crisis and outlined five key priorities for urgent action. UFCW Locals 175 & 633 supports these five priorities and, similarly, calls on the government to take immediate steps to address the staffing crisis:

  • Fund the system to ensure increased staffing through attraction and retention, and proper employment conditions such as more full-time work and appropriate compensation levels;
  • Act on some recommendations from the staffing report, particularly a four-hour per day minimum standard of care for each resident; and,
  • End the unconstitutional emergency orders, maintained by Bill 195, that bypass collective agreement language covering scheduling, holidays, vacations, hours of work, and rights to file grievances.

Additionally, UFCW Locals 175 & 633 agree that the approach to long-term care must change at all levels of management and administration. The current system is unable to meet the needs of residents and their families, and it doesn’t provide the support and resources vital for the dedicated health care workers to fulfill their jobs to the level of excellence they’re capable of.

“Workers in long-term care need more than lip service – they need real solutions now, not months from now,” said Haggerty. “If the government is serious about fixing the staffing crisis, it can start by repealing Bill 195 and applying funding directly to front-line workers.”

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 represents more than 70,000 Union Members across Ontario including over 5,000 health care workers in long-term care, retirement home, homecare and congregate care workplaces.

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