January 15, 2019
HALIFAX – Recommendations from the Nova Scotia Expert Panel on Long-Term Care highlight the need for a serious investment in the province’s long-term care system, including a call to increase staffing and deal with troubling recruitment and retention issues.
Unifor, which represents over 2,000 workers in long-term care facilities across Nova Scotia, said while the panel did not address funding specifically, it is clear that many of its recommendations can not be achieved without an increase in provincial long-term care budgets.
“Long-term care in the province is in crisis, and there is no doubt the recommendations in this report will help, but not if the government doesn’t step forward and put the necessary funding in place to ensure there is adequate staffing and high-quality care for residents,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “In our nursing homes, we know that the conditions of work for our members are the conditions of care for vulnerable seniors.”
The five recommendations from the Panel show an understanding of the complexity of providing care and the problems in recruiting and retaining staff in a sector that has faced consecutive years of budget freezes and budget cuts.
The Panel did adopt several of the recommendations in the Unifor submission, such as the proposal of an arms-length committee to continue oversight on the government’s implementation of its recommendations.
“Worker retention and recruitment are serious problems and stagnating wages is a key factor we identified driving workers away from long-term care homes,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Area Director. “We know that without a commitment from the government to substantially increase funding, we will continue to see problems with staffing levels and inadequate care.”
The panel recommended a number of recruitment strategies, and Unifor would add that without robust retention plans we will continue to see a vicious cycle of people leaving the sector.
Unifor urges the provincial government to act swiftly and dedicate sufficient funding in what is seen as the “poor cousin” in health care. The union remains committed to advocate for those who live in long-term care and those who provide their care.
For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-717-7491 (cell).