A national crisis has emerged in long-term care, assisted living and other seniors’ homes.
More than 600 nursing and retirement homes across Canada have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, with Nova Scotia, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia hardest hit so far. To date, more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in these homes, and the numbers are expected to climb.
Sadly, the risk of a crisis like this existed long before the COVID-19 virus hit Canada. Decades of funding cuts, privatization that puts people’s care in the hands of for-profit corporations, and weakened regulations have all contributed to the conditions.
Workers at long-term care homes are made vulnerable by the same issues hurting residents. Unions representing staff who provide care in seniors’ homes have been warning about problems for years. These workers, most of them women, tell stories of impossible workloads, staffing shortages and low pay. They often work in more than one home just to make ends meet. This was true before the pandemic and conditions got worse when the virus hit.
In addition, many workers were not provided the personal protective equipment they needed such as face masks, gloves and gowns to keep both themselves and residents of the homes safe.
Significant changes are needed in how we provide care for seniors. The Council of Canadians is bringing people from across the country together to call on the federal government to act urgently to ensure all seniors have the care they need now and in the future.
People are always more important than profits. Caring for seniors and the workers who care for them is an essential part of our health care system that requires strong public oversight and funding.
If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to support our elderly in long-term care and seniors’ care homes.