Protect People in Long-Term Care
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Dear Prime Minister and Premiers of all provinces and territories,
We, the undersigned, are gravely concerned about the unfolding crisis in our nation’s long term care facilities (LTCs). As of April 14, 2020, nearly half of all reported COVID-19 deaths in Canada are linked to long term care facilities. We write in support of our elders, family, friends and neighbours who live and work in these facilities. The window is quickly closing on our opportunity to provide a strong coordinated national strategy for protecting this extremely vulnerable population.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed Canada’s seniors on April 3, 2020, saying, “You raised us. You built our amazing country. Now you are staying inside and you are physically separated from your loved ones… We love you very much.”
What has transpired at Lynn Valley in North Vancouver BC, Revera McKenzie Towne in Calgary AB, Revera Pinecrest in Bobcaygeon, ON, CHSLD de Sainte-Dorothée and CHSLD Herron in Dorval QC, should serve as a stark warning of what will happen all across Canadian LTCs if all our governments fail to act swiftly.
We understand the response to this crisis has varied among the provinces and territories. This extraordinary emergency calls for extraordinary measures to ensure protection for our most vulnerable citizens. The federal and provincial governments have already taken unprecedented measures to work across jurisdictional boundaries in order to guarantee protections in many sectors for all Canadians. The need to do the same for LTCs is critical.
Many of these facilities were already strained prior to the coronavirus crisis due to chronically underpaid and overworked staff. These systemic shortcomings are especially pronounced for First Nations, Inuit, Métis and historically underserved communities.
We call on the federal and provincial governments to quickly agree to, fund and implement the following best practices across all LTCs:
- providing and ensuring the use of proper Personal Protective Equipment for all staff, especially those coming in closest contact with residents.
- testing all residents and staff immediately; aggregating and sharing all data from LTCs at the provincial and federal levels. Data is key.
- isolating all confirmed cases and transferring them offsite to COVID-19-ready wards or facilities (eg. hotels) in order to contain the spread, and alleviate pressures on LTC staff.
- ensuring appropriate staffing levels in all LTC facilities. This must include regionally coordinated recruitment efforts to compensate for staff attrition & accepting the offers of underemployed Canadian foreign-trained health-care professionals to put theirs skills to use.
- raising compensation for full or part-time LTC employees in all positions (especially personal support workers and cleaners) to reflect their status as essential workers in a national health emergency.
- ensuring that funds for staff are available for safe transportation to and from facilities, emergency housing for self-isolation, and childcare. Meals, laundered uniforms, showers and counselling would further support frontline workers doing extra long shifts.
Over 400,000 people currently live in long term care across Canada. Many hundreds of thousands more work to care for them. These are our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents, our siblings, our neighbours and our friends. They collectively hold our community and family knowledge, histories, languages and our values. And they are exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19. We have an opportunity to act now by putting emergency funds in place to protect our loved ones and to support the staff who care for them. We urge you to make this an immediate priority.
THE LONG-TERM CARE CRISIS COMMITTEE
We are an ad hoc committee from across the country. See our names below the french version, and please join us in signing.
Dallas Diamond - My mother lived in LTC in Calgary until her passing in 2018. I currently volunteer in a LTC facility.
Susan Kennard - My blog says it all.
Janet Alfred - We are Nagnis Kwa’akw’akw and my sister is in a LTC in Toronto. My daughter works with LTC people in BC.
Ruth Baines - My parents mom 89 and dad 90 live in LTC in Calgary. None of my siblings live in Calgary so we’re dependent on the home they live in and the staff there to keep them safe from COVID 19. The measures out laid in the petition would provide another desperately needed layer of protection.
Peter Lawrence - Our moral authority as a country and a people requires decisive action during this pandemic. The need to keep our long term care workers safe from harm must be confronted by timely funding for personal protective equipment, testing and increased staffing
Kathy Hicks - My 82 year old mother is in LTC in Nfld.
NORTH WEST TERRITORIES
Mahalia Yakeleya Newmark - My great uncle resides in a LTC in Norman Wells, NT. We are Dene First Nations. I am concerned about all of our elders. They are the knowledge keepers and guides in our communities. Their lives are important!
John Walker - My mother was in a care home and I know what’s at stake.
Roz Power - My 87 year old mother is in LTC in Newfoundland with advanced Alzheimer’s. A staff member on another wing has tested positive. If my mother catches COVID-19 she will pass on alone and terrified.
Marion Moore - The South Shore Chapter of the Council of Canadians has signed on.
Lucy Tulugatjuk - I have a sister working at a LTC in Nunavut.
Jana Angulalik - My cousin works at a continuing care centre in Cambridge Bay. She is a young mother and I fear for her health and the rest of my family. I fear for my community’s safety.
Katerina Cizek - My 82-year old father moved into a LTC in Toronto 7 weeks ago. He is adapting to his new surroundings and is mostly stoic. But he is a voracious reader, especially of the news. During a window visit last week, he looked me in the eye and asked me on the phone “Will I survive this?”
Jay Pitter - My grandmother spent her final years in a LTC home where her dignity & health were protected. Elders are keepers of cultural heritage and have profoundly shaped my equitable city-building practice.
Angel Narick - My 87 year old father is in a LTC in QC which is now a hot zone with 11 cases on his floor.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Thelma Phillips - I volunteer with a LTC facility auxiliary.
Kitra Cahana - My father is a LTC resident with limited lung capacity in QC. He has so much joyous life yet to live and wisdom to share.
Helene Klodawsky - My very close friend, who is not elderly, is in a Montreal care home.
Suzanne Jodoin - Les personnes qui font un travail difficile dans les résidences pour personnes âgées sont sous-payées.
Michelle van Beusekom - My 91 year old mother and my 89 year old father live in a LTC in Brampton, ON that as of Monday April 14 has 20 confirmed cases of COVID. I am worried sick for my parents and don't understand why there isn't mandatory testing in LTCs - especially those with outbreaks - so staff can effectively assess and manage the situation.
Claire Jodin - Les parents de plusieurs de mes amis et un ami proche sont en CHSLD et se sentent abandonnés.
Dominique Fortin - Ma mère âgée de 88 ans est dans une résidence à Outremont et la situation m’inquiète.
François Marcotte - I am a 42-year old resident of CHSLD. I blog for radio-canada
Marian Kleckner - My dad is 100 years old and in a Moose Jaw, Sask LTC. He has 10 healthy children and innumerable grand & great grandchildren. We want him safe & not to die alone.
Natalie Edelson - I volunteer at LTC in Whitehorse and my friends work there.
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