TORONTO, April 23, 2020 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) and its members working in long-term care facilities are relieved that the ruling of the Superior Ontario Court today orders four long-term care homes to immediately rectify several serious health and safety issues that have resulted in devastating COVID-19 outbreaks.
"It is truly a huge relief to know that after exhausting all other avenues, the Ontario Superior Court has agreed with ONA that these employers must follow health and safety practices to prevent the spread of infection among long-term care residents and the registered nurses and health professionals who care for them," said Vicki McKenna, RN, ONA President. "ONA is thrilled that our members will have access to the proper protective equipment they need to protect themselves, and therefore their residents, and that the homes' administrators will be forced to follow infection control practices – and put safety over profit."
In his decision on an urgent injunction brought by ONA, Mr. Justice E.M. Morgan ruled that the homes must comply with Public Health Directives. They require that long-term care homes respect the professional and clinical judgement of nurses when deciding how to protect themselves, and therefore their residents. He also ruled that the decision as to what PPE and other health and safety measures are required in delivering care to a resident is to be made by nurses, based on their assessment.
Mr. Justice Morgan quoted the precautionary principle – to err on the side of caution and take all measures reasonable to keep workers safe – in his ruling. The late Mr. Justice Archie Campbell, in his 2003 SARS report, also emphasized the need to use the precautionary principle.
He also wrote in his ruling that nurses are "sacrificing their personal interests to those under their care…not only for the immediate benefit of their patients, but for the benefit of society at large." Mr. Justice Morgan also called the private homes' suggestion that nurses' quest for masks, protective gear and cohorting of patients was 'for the nurses' own narrow, private interest was "ironic" and "seems to sorely miss the mark." He ruled that the individual nurses spend their working days not "sacrificing their personal interests to the persons under their care."
"Now, nurses and health-care professionals will have access to appropriate PPE, residents will be cohorted and proper infection control measures will be brought into these homes," said McKenna. "I am optimistic that these measures may soon result in putting out the raging spread of COVID-19 in these homes."
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
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SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
For further information: Sheree Bond, 416-986-8240; [email protected]