Good day Premier Ford
My name is Kelly Dick, President of the Waterloo Region Labour Council. I am writing you this letter today to discuss the crisis we are facing with regards to COVID-19 in our long term care homes in this province and how this has affected the people in my community as well as my members and their families.
I have 34,000 affiliated members from 26 different local unions. Some of my members work as PSW's, long term care staff and healthcare workers in various hospitals. The hardest hit sectors during this pandemic.
I have heard as recently as this past Friday, that some LTC workers still don't have the proper PPE available to them each day when they start their shifts. Whether this is a supply issue or a supervisory decision in each LTC home, as we all know, this is the biggest issue when it comes to passing this virus on to other residents and other staff should a worker be exposed.
Many of my members have in fact already contracted COVID-19 on the job because of these very same issues. They have been forced to self-isolate at home and have had to deal with the stresses of potentially bringing this virus home to their families. Many of these cases could have been avoided had they had access to the proper PPE and sufficient staff to deal with this crisis. Many of these workers are also among the lowest paid in the sector and have been classed as emergency essential workers, which makes it mandatory for these workers to show up each day, regardless of unsafe work conditions. There are cases right here in Waterloo Region where LTC facilities have in fact refused workers the proper PPE, have been told to bring in their own and even asked to wear the same PPE for multiple shifts and from patient to patient. Minister of Health, Christine Elliott has repeatedly said that there is enough PPE in each home and that if workers need PPE, which is clear that they all do, they shall have it. Unfortunately, even up to Friday, this simply isn't the case. Simply continuing a dialogue with these homes is clearly not working. Workers and seniors deserve better care and stricter safety measures in each home.
Part of this problem points back to the lack of funding and deep cuts that have been implemented by every PC and Liberal government over the past 27 years. Another points directly to private LTC homes putting profits before the care of residents. As you have said in your updates, you really do see the cracks in the ship when a storm hits.
Many reviews have already been done by previous governments on the subject of LTC with no definitive results or actions. Your government has again committed to doing an internal review, which further to my last comment, will most likely not provide answers to the questions which lead us to the problems we're currently facing and have been for many years, in our LTC system.
From myself as the president, the Waterloo Region Labour Council and all of its affiliated members, we implore you and your government to open an independent public inquiry into the LTC crisis that has plagued this province for over a quarter century.
We need to understand how our LTC system has gotten into such a state of crisis while leaving the finger pointing and blaming at the door, what steps we need to take to overhaul our current system so that residents and staff are no longer left in a vulnerable state and what role, if any, do private, for-profit long-term care homes have in our province going forward. It is very clear to the labour movement in this province, that for-profit LTC homes need the deepest inquiry. The highest percentage of deaths in this province due to COVID-19 have come out of our private LTC homes. For-profit LTC puts people's lives at risk, while putting profits and shareholders first. The labour movement will continue to fight for a publicly owned and operated LTC and healthcare system across this province. In light of COVID-19, this has become one of the highest priorities for us and our members. It is our ask that it be a priority for you also.
If you are truly for the people as you continue to tell the people of this great province, then again, I ask you to order an independent public inquiry and not an internal review. We owe this to all of the families that have lost loved ones in our LTC homes. They are your people.
Wishing you health and safety as we continue to move through this most difficult time.
Peace and Solidarity,
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