Workers short-handed in caring for elderly, frail; duped by McGuinty who promised standards of care

    WINDSOR, ON, Sept. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Eighty-six per cent of front line
workers in long-term care facilities have worked short-handed anywhere from
once to 20 times a month when caring for elderly and fail residents of nursing
homes, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. The
union, which is currently tabulating results from a survey it has conducted
among over a thousand CUPE health care workers, says that understaffing means
workers are run off their feet to deliver everything from baths to foot care
to appropriate food for long-term care residents.
    "These workers know that their working conditions become the living
conditions of seniors and our loved ones who depend on them," said CUPE
Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn, speaking at a media conference in
Windsor today with Ontario health care worker members who have gathered in the
city for their annual conference. "Short staffing, that results in
over-burdened caregivers, will eventually lead to residents not getting the
services they need. We've been duped by the McGuinty government. It promised
to review and implement a minimum staffing and care level in these facilities
eight months ago, but has not."
    Hahn says, that because of insufficient funding, staffing levels are not
adequate. Increasingly, employers do not replace workers who are off ill or on
vacation, and front line care workers are forced to work short, without a full
staff complement.
    CUPE Ontario and its members ran a province-wide campaign earlier this
year with partners including family organizations and the Ontario Health
Coalition pressing the McGuinty government for minimum standards of staffing
and care in long-term care facilities, added Sue Schmidt, chair of CUPE
Ontario's Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee (HCWCC). "We thought we
had won the battle only to see the government renege on its consultation and
review of the issue which was promised for last April. Staff are killing
themselves to get everything done for their residents. Now, in the middle of
an election, the Liberals are again making a promise to review what we had to
force them to promise to review eight months ago."
    Twelve years after the Harris Conservative government eliminated
standards of care, CUPE Ontario launched a campaign last January pressing for
an average of 3.5 hours of care per resident each day. That is the standard in
Alberta and the standard that other provinces are striving to achieve.
McGuinty had failed to include staffing and care standards in Bill 140, a new
law for nursing homes, homes for the aged and rest homes. Last week,
Howard Hampton and the NDP made a key commitment to introduce a guaranteed
minimum standard of 3.5 hours a day of hands-on nursing and personal care for
seniors living in long-term care homes.

For further information:

For further information: Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647)
225-3685; Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer, (416) 540-3979; Sue
Schmidt, Chair, Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee (HCWCC), (905)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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