By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Health care for seniors is in crisis, protesters said at an information rally held outside MPP Jim McDonell's office.
Dozens of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members, mostly personal support workers (PSWs) from the long-term care facilities, rallied to gain support for a daily, four-hour minimum standard of care for residents, which is mandated in legislation, tracked, and publicly reported.
Local long-term care staff members said the number of residents more than 80 years old with multiple chronic conditions, including dementia, has grown considerably. Protestors went on to say that staffing levels at homes are too low, leaving residents who need help with bathing, feeding, toileting and dressing to wait.
"We just need a funding structure and a standard of care that give residents the dignity they deserve," said Kevin Bates, a CUPE member from Oshawa and a PSW.
Ross said he has seen fellow workers spend their own nights off caring for residents, or going home near tears because they don't have the time to properly care for them.
Laurie Ross, a long-term care worker in Lancaster, is hoping a petition that supports a legislated care standard will be signed by tens of thousands of people.
"The quality of health care for seniors in nursing homes has not gone up, it's gone down. It's getting scary," said Ross. "We need the support of all our MPPs."
At the protest, people holding placards that read 'Seniors Deserve Better!' circled around a large fighter jet prop, as they chanted, "Fund health care, not warfare."
McDonell, a Tory, arrived after an hour of protesting, and he didn't waste any time attacking the Liberal provincial government for a lack of leadership.
"There's nothing left for health care and they're quietly making cuts like we've seen in diabetes. We've seen new debts in long-term care and doctors that are available to be hired, but are not being hired due to lack of funding," said McDonell.
He agreed that changes need to be made in the current state of health care for seniors in nursing homes.