Parisien Manor workers picket for more long-term care money

Workers at Parisien Manor in Cornwall, Ont. demonstrate outside the long-term care home on Second Street East and Marlbourgh Street on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. The Canadian Union of Public Employees is asking the province for better and more funding for long-term care residents. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated at 5 p.m. with comment from the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care.

CORNWALL – Workers at a Cornwall long-term care home are calling on the government to increase funding and institute minimum time of care standards.

About a dozen of the 75 workers at Parisien Manor on Second Street East held a noon hour demonstration Tuesday. They are a mix of personal support workers, registered practical nurses, dietitians and other staff.

“We are working short (staffed) all the time. People are getting injured. Residents need more care. The high demand on the residents has upped. When the bells are going off, we don’t have time to go to them because we’re already with someone else,” CUPE Local President Sylvie Point told Cornwall Newswatch.

Point, a personal support worker (PSW), says “the workers are tired, they’re exhausted. We are very short of staff.” Point says she was injured meeting the high demands of the residents. Point says she was caring for an entire section of the home because two other employees were on modified duty and two others were on limited duty.

Charlene Van Dyk, chairman of the CUPE health care workers coordinating committee, adds that “we are in a PSW crisis” across the province. Van Dyk doesn’t work at Parisien Manor.

Van Dyk says the government has been cutting long-term care funding by three per cent per year. Ideally, she would like to see a 15 per cent increase in funding.

“This government needs to fund our health care system, in general, better. But especially long-term care,” she said.

When pressed by Cornwall Newswatch as far as the number of employees they would like on staff at Parisien Manor, the union could not provide any specifics.

“As far as money goes, I think that, ah, I think they need to fund at like 15 per cent but you know like, I mean, that’s a little (optimistic)” Van Dyk laughed.

She says, province-wide, long-term care funding used to be $220 million and now it’s about $170 million.

In September, Ontario Long-Term Care Minster, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, said the government was working on developing new programs to improve long-term care delivery.

When asked whether added staff would lead to fewer hours overall for employees, Van Dyk doesn’t think that would happen. “I don’t that they would be getting less hours because we want to increase the time they have to care for residents.”

“We need more staff. They need to give us more money for the residents,” Point said. “Because, we are also going to be here one day and if it looks like this now, how is it going to be when we get here? Because it’s a lick and a promise right now.”

In a statement to Cornwall Newswatch, Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care spokesman Rebecca Bozzato says the government understands staffing and funding “plays a significant role” in meeting long term care needs.

“To be clear, our government is investing $72 million more into long-term care this year. In addition, as part of our commitment to building a 21st century long-term care system, we are investing $1.75 billion to create 15,000 new long-term care beds and redevelop 15,000 existing, older beds in five years to help increase access to long-term care, reduce waitlists, alleviate hospital capacity pressures and end hallway health care across the province,” Bozzato wrote in the prepared statement.

She added that they are working to “optimize” the workforce and improve working conditions.

A call to local MPP Jim McDonell requesting comment was not returned.