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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

"The failed experiment of for-profit long-term care must come to an end"

Unions launch "Care not Profits" campaign demanding an end to profit in long-term care in Ontario with petition and powerful new video

Screenshot from the Care not Profits campaign video

The Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Unifor launched the "Care not Profits" campaign on July 23 in Ontario to call for an end to "profit in long-term care" for seniors.

The campaign is demanding "reforms from Premier Doug Ford so money goes to better care for seniors, not profits for corporate shareholders."

It was launched with a website, petition drive and a powerful new video that will begin to air on television July 24.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Ontario's worst hit nursing homes were all for-profit facilities. Data tells us that for-profit long-term care corporations have 17 per cent fewer staff than non-profit nursing homes. Yet, while families and care staff were dying throughout the pandemic, three of the largest long-term care businesses combined paid shareholders more than $58 million in dividends in the past three months alone. These are facts.

The petition, which you can sign on the website reads in part:

It’s no surprise that the worst hit nursing homes in Ontario are all run by for-profit companies—companies that take taxpayer money with one hand and give it to shareholders with the other.
Amidst all the pain, suffering, and deaths of over 1800 seniors—our moms, dads, aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers—we saw three of the largest companies in the sector pay out over $58,000,000 in dividends to shareholders.
This is profit that should have gone to care for vulnerable residents and hiring more frontline workers at a living wage. This is so important because when the conditions of work become the conditions of care, all residents suffer.
This is profit that should have gone to procuring personal protective equipment, so workers were not forced to wear garbage bags in desperate attempts to keep themselves and elderly residents safe.
This is profit that should have gone to infrastructure upgrades like air conditioning and other appropriate infectious disease control measures that currently do not exist at many long-term care facilities.
Our families deserve the dignity that comes from quality care. But these companies have a fiduciary duty to shareholders that time and again put profits first. It’s why for-profit facilities have 17% fewer staff than non-profit homes. And it’s why for-profit facilities are slower to upgrade infrastructure. That’s just wrong.
The time for delay and passing the buck is over. The failed experiment of for-profit long-term care must come to an end.
We need urgent actions that protect our most vulnerable loved ones, not just during a pandemic, but at all times.

According to the campaign,

Better long-term care means:
Providing caregivers a full-time job with benefits like paid sick leave
Mandating high staff-to-resident ratios for quality elder care
Standardized living-wages to attract and retain good nurses and personal support workers

The video for the campaign starkly reminds of the terrible toll and horrific conditions that were seen at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

Further reading: Ontario’s nursing homes continue to face critical staffing challenges



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