Ontario's Retirement Homes are Failing to Care for Seniors



    TORONTO, May 29 /CNW/ - SEIU Local 1 Canada calls upon the Ontario
Government to introduce regulations for retirement homes to ensure that our
seniors are cared for properly.
    Under Ontario law, retirement homes are only obligated to comply with the
Residential Tenancies Act, which was never intended to regulate health care
providers. At best, a retirement home may belong to the Ontario Retirement
Communities Association (ORCA), which has a voluntary affiliation policy and
no oversight or enforcement mechanisms. Large retirement home chains such as
Amica Mature Lifestyles, which have been expanding their operations across
Ontario, are operating as primary care providers for many elderly residents
without any of the usual levels of accountability.
    "Retirement homes have the same legal obligations as a college dorm
room," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada. "Most people
know that the needs of a 17-year-old are very different from an 87-year-old."
    Many retirement homes in Ontario such as Amica have accepted residents
who are suffering from severe health problems such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and
dementia. Yet many companies like Amica do not have adequately staffed homes
to provide the necessary care. Most private chains gamble with care levels to
secure higher profits.
    Employees in retirement homes are also paid much less than their
co-workers in the health care sector, receive few or no medical benefits, and
are generally restricted to part-time schedules.
    "Yet the burden of responsibility to care for their residents, whatever
the specialized care needs are, falls completely on the shoulders of
retirement home staff. It certainly does not lie on the shoulders of
shareholders who are reaping the profits," added Stewart.
    The Ontario Government needs to create a legislated Retirement Home Act
that would:

    
    -   Spell out the personal, medical, dietary, recreational and social
        service obligations retirement homes must provide
    -   Create a Resident's Bill of Rights
    -   Create democratically elected Residents Councils to aid retirement
        home residents to govern their own affairs
    -   Hire enough staff members to care for residents appropriately
    -   Train and screen staff appropriately
    -   Inspect homes on a regular basis
    -   Define different types and classes of retirement homes
    

    This will not only help to ensure that seniors receive the type of care
that is needed, but will also improve working conditions for those people who
have unselfishly chosen this career.

    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada
represents more than 46,000 health care and community services workers in
Ontario. SEIU members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement
homes and community services throughout the province.





For further information:

For further information: Barry Smith at (416) 528-9116 or visit our
website at www.seiulocal1.org


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