District 6 long-term care workers launch campaign to revitalize sector

The USW District 6 Health Care Workers Council is launching a new campaign to take action on staffing ratios and working conditions in long-term care. The campaign, titled “Seniors Deserve Better,” will focus on direct political and community action to improve conditions both for workers and residents.

“The long-term sector has been in crisis for decades,” said District 6 Staff Representative Richard Leblanc, “and the pandemic has exposed the short-staffing and deteriorating conditions inside many facilities.”

Because of this, the council paired up with ICL (Institute for Change Leaders) last year for a series of organizing trainings offered to health care workers and activists, as well as their friends and families. They also launched a postcard drive in the wake of a deadly spring 2020, as a result of COVID-19’s titanic spread in Ontario long-term care homes.

A core group of activists have continued to meet regularly to plan this multifaceted campaign that focuses on demanding pay increases for long-term care workers and the establishment of a provincial law mandating long-term care homes to provide a minimum of four hours of care per resident, per day.

“We expect to see a lot of support for this campaign,” said Leblanc. “Everyone has seen the dire conditions, and even the operators of these facilities are frustrated with their low funding and inability to hire and retain workers.”

The campaign organizers even plan to invite legislators (supporting and non-supporting) to spend a night in a long-term care facility to experience the conditions themselves. 

“I can’t wait to get started and make real change in health care, because we certainly need it,” said District 6 Health Care Workers Council President Audra Nixon.

If you are a long-term care worker in the union’s District 6 (New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Ontario) and have a story to share, send a message to longtermcare@usw.ca. You can also request to share your story anonymously over the phone rather than write it over email. Schedule a phone interview by sending a message to longtermcare@usw.ca.

Sign up for the campaign by texting ‘longtermcare’ to 32323. Standard message and data rates may apply.

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