Media Statement: Long-Term Care

December 17, 2020

Toronto – December 17, 2020: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is cautiously optimistic about the provincial government’s announcement released today on staffing levels in long-term care, but ONA awaits important details regarding implementation, skill mix and timelines.

“We appreciate any improvements in long-term care staffing that will provide much-needed support and relief for our residents,” ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, notes. “But before we champion this news, we must be provided with additional details including how the staffing plan will unfold as well as timelines.”

ONA has been one of many organizations calling for improvements in registered nurse staffing, health-care support and minimum care hours for residents of long-term care for decades. On several occasions, ONA provided expert testimony, facts and front-line experiences our members experienced in the first wave of COVID-19 to the province’s COVID-19 Long-Term Care Commission. Key in our recommendations is a minimum four hours of care per resident per day.

“We need to know how these precious four hours will be implemented so that they will achieve better outcomes for residents,” McKenna says. “I will hold the government accountable for adding registered nurses to the team of registered practical nurses, nurse practitioners and personal support workers (PSW) and others in long-term care to address rising resident acuity as soon as possible. Our residents need this care now.”

Although the government’s plan did provide some details regarding PSW education and training, the plan does not appear to address the need to increase funding for additional registered nurse seats in colleges and universities. “Long-term care is stretched thin, and we must build capacity now within our current nursing students, part of which includes fixing their clinical placements which have been cancelled due to the pandemic,” McKenna emphasizes. “Workplaces must be given the green light now to open up to train nursing students to give them the hands-on experiences they need. If PSWs are able to go into workplaces to be trained, so should nursing students.”

For more information: 

Katherine Russo 647-539-1925