Ombudsman's investigation into long-term care must look at the right things

    CUPE urges focus on funding accountability and calls for
    no reprisals against workers for speaking out

    TORONTO, July 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Today's announcement that the Ontario
Ombudsman will investigate provincial monitoring of long-term care homes is a
positive step "to improving care quality for residents as long as André Marin
looks at the right things," says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
    "While we welcome Ombudsman Marin's investigation, we encourage Mr. Marin
to look closely at the endemic lack of accountability that pervades the
industry, particularly in the for-profit sector," says Ryan. "Money is going
in, but care levels are not rising accordingly. Mr. Marin needs to get to the
bottom of why that's happening, and why our call for minimum care standards is
being rejected by the McGuinty government."
    CUPE and others have raised the problem with how the province tracks and
monitors the number of hours of hands-on care patients receive. Ontario
calculates this based on number of hours paid, but other provinces such as New
Brunswick base it on number of hours worked, which provides a more accurate
    Ryan noted that Marin's investigation, while potentially good news for
residents and families, is needed only because of Liberal neglect. Former
health minister George Smitherman promised three times over four years to
bring in minimum standards of care, but then reneged.
    Recently, Smitherman had the opportunity to enact a regulated hands-on
care standard, but opted instead to adopt the weak report by consultant
Shirlee Sharkey that explicitly rejects minimum standards of care.
    "The Liberal government promised a "revolution" in long-term care, but
all we see is a regression," Ryan said. "So while we support Ombudsman Marin's
investigation, we regret that the McGuinty government chose not to introduce
minimum standards of hands-on care to make the real difference for residents
and families. They blew it."
    It remains to be seen whether new health minister David Caplan will clean
up Smitherman's mess, Ryan said.

    CUPE represents nearly 25,000 long-term care front line staff
province-wide, who must be protected with whistle-blower protection from any
reprisals for speaking out during Marin's review.

For further information:

For further information: Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, (416)
209-0066; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878-1431

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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