‘We need to fix it quickly,’ Ontario’s long-term care sector faces staffing crisis due to pandemic

Barrie, Ont. –

Ontario’s long-term care sector was devastated by thousands of deaths as COVID-19 ravaged homes, infecting the vulnerable residents inside.

In many cases, seniors’ homes were overcrowded, understaffed and unprepared for the pandemic.

Now, the Ontario Long-Term Care Association (OLTCA) is calling for change and help.

“We know what’s wrong. We know what we need to fix, and we know that we need to fix it quickly,” said OLTCA CEO Donna Duncan.

Duncan heads the association representing more than 620 of the province’s municipal, non-profit, and privately-owned homes.

She said the sector faces a staffing crisis and is struggling to retain and attract staff to work in seniors’ homes, while 30,000 Ontario residents wanting to move in are waitlisted. 

Duncan said the situation is unacceptable.

“Far too many people are still in hospitals. Home care is not a viable option for so many of these people, and we have to make it better. We absolutely have to do better,” she said.

The OLTCA reports there are currently nine long-term care home outbreaks, compared to 65 this time last year.

Safety measures called for a reduction of resident spaces by 4,500 to allow physical distancing with no more than two residents per room.

Duncan is appealing to the province to work with the sector to restore accountability and trust in homes with firm penalties, tools, and supports to ensure the focus is on residents and their loved ones.

“We’ve got to make sure that the legislation will allow for us to provide the level of care that our residents need when they need it,” Duncan finished.

Of the 262 Simcoe Muskoka residents who lost their lives after becoming infected with COVID-19, roughly 40 per cent were in long-term care.


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