The Stakes are High for Long-Term Care Residents and Staff as Government Announces Commission

July 29, 2020

TORONTO, ON., July 29, 2020 – Noting that the “stakes are high for those who live and work in long-term care,” the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) says it is vital that the voices of nurses are heard by the government-appointed commission announced today, tasked with examining what went wrong during COVID-19 in long-term care.

“Our registered nurses, registered practical nurses, nurse practitioners and health-care professionals are on the front lines, caring for our vulnerable long-term care residents,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “We have seen dozens of inquiries and commissions examine conditions in this sector over the past several decades, and we have solutions. We are disheartened that possible recommendations the Commission makes will be non-binding, and that it will not be able to establish civil or criminal liability; however, ONA will step up and we expect to be allowed to share our experience and knowledge nonetheless.”

McKenna adds that she is relieved to see that now that the commission has been announced, its work can commence at last, though she expresses concern that the report will not be complete until next spring. Throughout the pandemic, ONA has flagged to the Ford government the need for proper protective equipment for long-term care staff, for proper staffing levels and infection control procedures to be followed, and raised the alarm about the number of staff forced to work two part-time positions in different facilities because full-time hours were not available to them. A recent informal survey of ONA members found that 66 per cent of respondents had not been offered full-time hours when told to choose to work for just one employer, despite the short staffing that plagues the industry – this is shocking and nonsensical.

“We know that there is a direct link between RN staffing levels and quality of care, about the need for a minimum number of hours of direct care per resident per day, and about the disastrous impact of chronic understaffing on both residents and those who care for them,” says McKenna. “As we said following the Gillese report, there is no need to wait for yet another report to be written to take action and improve long-term care. ONA is ready to provide solutions to fix this sector, once and for all, and ensure that our residents are finally provided the care they deserve.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.


For more information:

Sheree Bond, 416-986-8240;