To the Editor
I thought your editorial “Investing in LTC workers” was entirely thoughtful and right on point.
Before I retired I was a national representative for 27 years for the Canadian Auto Workers and then Unifor. Most of my job was negotiating contracts and some of my responsibility was negotiating contracts for employees working in nursing homes retirement homes and hospitals. I have been retired for 14 years now but nothing has changed.
The government and other bodies are claiming that they didn’t know that long-term care workplaces were broken. This is not true! When I retired we still could not break through the cycle of part-time workers working three jobs to make a living because the employers would not pay a living wage and benefits. Furthermore privately owned nursing homes have been understaffed for years. I dealt with situations such as one staff person on at night for 72 residents!
The cycle of poverty and shame is not new and we tried to change this knowing that the people we were representing were completely dedicated to the people they were looking after. I have watched for the past weeks so many politicians saying they didn’t know what was happening in long-term care and PSWs that provide in-home services. Politicians and employers have had the opportunity to change this and no one would step up to the plate.
One has to wonder if this would be the same if the majority of the staff were men. I can only hope that now that the whole world knows the way these workers are treated something will be done to make sure the workers are properly compensated and allowed to work safely with proper protective equipment.
No group of workers is more dedicated to their patients than those on the front line of this pandemic and they deserve better.