LONDON, KITCHENER/WATERLOO,GUELPH, STRATFORD – ON – From high death rates in long-term care homes, concerning levels of health care worker infections and low COVID-19 testing, nearly 600 people polled in London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph and Stratford, say the provincial government is underperforming in how it is dealing with the pandemic response.
Overall, those polled in the south central cities said they didn’t think the province planned properly to deal with
COVID-19. 62 per cent in London, 68 per cent in Guelph, 54 per cent in Kitchener/Waterloo and 50 per cent in Stratford said, no the province did not plan well.
The poll conducted for the CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario earlier this spring was released today following a shocking report from the Canadian military whose soldiers are currently assisting in five Ontario long-term homes. Four of the five homes are for-profit and privately owned and have since been taken over by the province.
Across Ontario, as of the end of May more than 1538 long-term care residents have died from COVID-19 and hundreds of front-line staff are infected with the virus. CUPE has consistently raised concerns that very ill residents with COVID-19 were not being taken for higher care in hospitals.
When asked whether the government should move long-term care residents ill with COVID-19 symptoms to hospital, to protect the other residents” more than twice as many said yes as those that said no, they should not be moved. “This government cancelled inspections of long-term care facilities last year at the request of the long- term care industry and has effectively prevented long-term care residents with COVID-19 from being transferred to hospital. This government has turned a blind eye and has a lot to answer for. But all of us owe so much more to this generation in our care and it is time to face that squarely,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE.
As of June 1, 4730 health care workers were infected with COVID-19. Thirteen of them have died. Consistently hospital and long-term care workers who are members of CUPE have said they do not have access to the equipment such as N95 to work safely. The province has been clear that the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) is low and that health staff must not waste PPE.
“LTC care staff care staff have loudly told the Premier and his minister’s that they are often denied PPE or told to ration and reuse masks and gowns,” says Hurley. “The same military report “supports what health care workers have been telling the government, that the PPE they need to protect themselves and residents, simply is not being made available to them.” Asked whether they thought the province needed to toughen its standards for protecting health care staff, 73 per cent polled in south central Ontario, said yes.
Testing for COVID-19 in Ontario is improving but still lagging. Other countries with aggressive testing have many fewer deaths. When asked would you like to see Ontario significantly increased testing, south central Ontario communities showed high support for widespread COVID-19 testing with 77 per cent of respondents saying yes. 79 per cent think all hospital patients and staff should be tested for the virus.
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications 416-559-9300 firstname.lastname@example.org