Senior Care Overlooked in Emergency Session

COVID-19 has exposed the Achilles heel of our National health system – the vulnerability of seniors and workers in long-term care residences.

Neither the King government nor Opposition members have raised the critical issue of Senior Care in nursing homes during the first week of the emergency sitting of the legislature. This needs to change.

Questions focussing on an indiscretion made be the Minister of Health two months ago are an old-style ‘gotcha’ kind of politics. This issue was raised and addressed then and does not need to come up simply as a way to embarrass him.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of Canadian deaths have been in nursing homes.  Most of these deaths have been residents and caregivers have also lost their lives. The shocking report submitted by the Canadian Armed Forces exposing deplorable conditions and elderly neglect in nursing homes has brought national attention to the issue of Senior care.  The vulnerability of Seniors  and the staff who attend to them is now in sharp focus in the minds of Islanders and Canadians.  It is appropriate and timely for the King government to ensure Seniors  in our province are receiving the quality care they need and deserve. A senior care strategy needs to include fair wages for nursing home workers, appropriate staffing levels that provide high quality care for residents and oversight to guarantee standards.

Premier King should order an independent and comprehensive review of all Island Seniors homes and our strategy for long-term care.  We cannot wait until tragedy strikes before action is taken.

Residents and their families deserve the best levels of care;  health care and support workers who provide this essential service should also expect support for their work. The pandemic has highlighted the challenges and the province needs a sustainable strategy for residents and workers.

 Sincerely,

Joe Byrne
Leader, Island New Democrats

(902) 367-8228 or info@ndppei.ca

Here on PEI, Joe has worked on numerous social programs in rural communities. He has done field work on issues faced by university and college students, has been Director of Youth Ministry, and has also coordinated pastoral planning for the diocese. He remains active in the Latin American Mission Program, and is President of the Cooper Institute, a grass-roots collective for community development. He also counts among his volunteer and community work Charlottetown Abbies soccer, church Youth and Music ministries, Voluntary Resource Council, Peace Vigil Group, Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, Canada World Youth, and Katimavik hosting. He keeps up his interaction with young people as a part-time instructor for the Abegweit Driving School. All of this, he does in addition to his work in the NDP. His vast array of church and community experiences have helped him cultivate his skills in communication, organization, and consensus building, and also brought him the joy of forming hundreds of friendships.

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