June 25th, 2020

Liberals must start preparing long-term care for second wave of COVID-19

HALIFAX -- As public health restrictions loosen and the province shifts to preparing for a potential second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the McNeil Liberals are failing to address fundamental issues in long-term care.

"Residents of long-term care and their families have made extraordinary sacrifices in order to protect themselves and their neighbours from COVID-19. These efforts need to be honoured by improving the conditions in nursing homes for any future outbreaks," said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. "Three years ago I joined staff at Northwood in a demonstration calling for better staffing in nursing homes. The staffing shortage problem has been clearly identified for some time, but the Liberals have not increased staffing ratios as needed. As we prepare for a second wave of COVID-19, staffing shortages in the nursing homes of Nova Scotia can no longer be ignored."

The Expert Panel on Long-Term Care reported prior to the pandemic that staffing issues in nursing homes were at a crisis point. The Panel recommended additional efforts to recruit and retain staff.

"Almost every nursing home is constantly working short staffed. This isn’t good for workers, and it is definitely not good for residents,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director for Unifor. “One lesson the government needs to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we need more investment in our nursing homes to recruit and retain long-term care workers and increase staff-to-resident ratios."

The NDP Caucus introduced its Care and Dignity Act in September 2018 to improve staff-to-resident ratios in long-term care , and is calling for a public inquiry into the outbreak of COVID-19 in long-term care. Premier McNeil has refused to call such an inquiry.