PEI Long-Term Care Review fails to add new insights

CUPE Local 2523, representing close to 200 Atlantic Baptist Nursing Home workers, along with CUPE PEI, issues a statement regarding the recently published Long-Term Care (LTC) review. While the review acknowledges inequities and calls for improvements in the private sector, it falls short of addressing the fundamental issues faced by LTC residents and workers.

The report emphasizes aligning qualifications, recruitment, retention, and financial aspects but lacks a comprehensive plan for improving LTC conditions. “Simply aligning an underfunded public sector with an even worse private sector does not provide the visionary change needed in LTC,” said CUPE Servicing Representative Lori Mackay.

“Many of the review’s recommendations merely suggest further investigation into known issues, delaying crucial action,” added Mackay. CUPE Local 2523, the PEI Health Council, and CUPE PEI initially presented recommendations in October 2022 advocating for higher-quality care, increased staffing, improved data, wage and working conditions improvements, and clear pandemic plans.

CUPE highlights the following elements, among many others, which were brought forth by care workers but inexplicably absent from the review:

  1. Transition private LTC homes to the public sector to ensure higher quality of care.
  2. Increase staffing levels in long-term care homes to improve quality of care.
  3. Negotiate fairly with unions to improve working conditions for all classifications of workers.
    1. The government has set aside some funds for wages but not true parity between private and public sectors.
    2. In current bargaining, Local 2523 has had no choice but to go into conciliation to push back on their employer’s “zeroes” (years of wage freezes) and below-inflation wage demands.
    3. Unlike other sectors, no worker in LTC has received any retention or recruitment bonuses.
  4. Support LTC workers in working reasonable hours and allow workers to take time off.
  5. Increase the number of paid sick leave for staff to 20 days per year.
  6. Maintain free tuition coverage for resident care worker programs and create educational bridging programs to train Resident Care Workers as Licensed Practical Nurses.
  7. Address the workplace psychosocial contributors to poor mental health including harassment, violence, and heavy workload.
  8. Enact pay equity in the sector, as LTC work is predominantly done by women.
  9. Address the discrepancy in resident infection rates between public and private LTC facilities.

Real progress in LTC requires a more comprehensive approach, which really recognizes the importance of those who deliver care to residents. “CUPE PEI calls on the provincial government to do the right thing and make our long-term care service a real publicly-owned and operated healthcare service. All residents and workers in this sector deserve the same standard of safety, dignity, and quality of care,” concluded Ashley Clark, President of CUPE PEI.