Long-Term Care Nurses Protest Untenable Working Conditions

On April 15, the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) issued a press release in which it denounces the working conditions for nurses and all health care workers in long-term care homes as "unfathomable." The statement points out that health care staff require immediate access to proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to stop the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable residents.

"As the media has noted, dozens of long-term care facilities across Ontario are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks and resident deaths," writes ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Our hearts go out to the residents and their families, and to the staff who provide the day-to-day care -- and who consequently become very close to their residents. Our nurses and all health-care workers in this sector are doing the very best they can, even as dozens of them have become infected themselves."

The press release stresses that long-term care homes were understaffed before the pandemic and are now in crisis. It notes that the ONA has been calling for changes and PPE for all workers since the pandemic began and that it will continue to call for action until the government acts to protect some of the most vulnerable Ontarians.

Amongst others, the changes the ONA is demanding include:

- Immediate access to appropriate personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive residents -- if staff are not safe, neither are residents.

- An immediate strategy to separate COVID-19 residents from non-COVID-19 residents -- and the separation of staff caring for each group -- to prevent the contamination of PPE and reduce the spread of the virus inside long-term care homes.

The ONA has been calling for part-time and casual staff at long-term care centres to be limited to one facility by increasing part-time workers' hours to full-time, or paying for lost wages. The statement informs that because of the pressure exerted by health care workers, the Ontario government has started to act on that demand.

This article was published in

Number 25 - April 24, 2020

Article Link:
Ontario: Long-Term Care Nurses Protest Untenable Working Conditions


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