NDP Introduce Bill to Protect Healthcare Workers and Seniors

May 27, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB— MLA and healthcare critic Uzoma Asagwara has introduced a bill today that protects families, healthcare workers, and patients in long-term care facilities throughout the province.

“Long-term care homes have become epicentres for coronavirus outbreaks, leaving residents and healthcare workers at risk, yet the Premier has done nothing to increase protections for our seniors—and has instead made deep cuts that undermine the quality of care they receive,” said Kinew. “This bill attempts to reverse his cuts by ensuring standards of care are protected, maintained and reported on. Now more than ever, and especially after the recent reporting in Ontario, our seniors and the workers who care for them deserve to have the support they need.”

The bill amends the Health Services Insurance Act to ensure standards for ‘direct care’ hours are established, and the government works toward achieving the gold standard of 4.0 care hours per day. It requires the provincial government to publicly report on the compliance of these standards on an annual basis.

“Manitoba’s nurses are proud to support this legislation which will increase direct care hours for our seniors and most vulnerable, and improve staffing levels in long-term care facilities,” said MNU President Darlene Jackson. “As our population ages, care needs are becoming increasingly complex, and therefore direct care hours must be protected by law to ensure all Manitoba seniors, regardless of income or geography, receive high quality care.”

“Staffing shortages are a systemic issue in long-term care across the country,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE 204 representing 2,500 long-term care support staff in the WRHA. “Ensuring adequate staffing levels means our seniors will get the care that they need, and the dignity, respect, and love that they deserve”.

Kinew noted the Premier had actually considered reducing the ratio of nurses to patients in long-term care homes. In just the last three years, the Pallister government has raised care home rates by more than 11%, costing seniors up to $3,300 more per year. They cut funding to care homes by 0.25% every year, cancelled new projects, and failed to add a single PCH bed. The Premier also cut physiotherapy supports for seniors recovering from hip and knee surgeries.