QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford needs to honour the courage of personal support workers (PSWs) who are speaking out to protect seniors and residents in long-term care by putting decent whistleblower protections in place, said NDP MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) during question period on Monday.
“Personal support workers speaking out about living conditions in long-term care have helped saved lives during this pandemic. But instead of receiving praise for their actions, they risk being punished by their employers, and fear losing their jobs in long-term care homes,” said Harden.
“We need the people behind the walls of long-term care homes, and working elsewhere in health care, to speak out and speak up, and we need to guarantee that they won’t face consequences for doing that.”
One anonymous PSW quoted in the Ottawa Citizen emailed the Premier on Sept. 27, writing: “One after another of the residents started dying. I was scared to come back after a few days off, not knowing how many would be left. It is not right, so short staffed and bodies of the people I cared for piling up.
“Please do something to save the workers and the residents that have survived so far.”
But that PSW, like many others, feels they can’t appear at the commission into long-term care, or speak publicly.
“The least this government can do to honour the courage of PSWs like this one is to ensure they won’t face any repercussions when they speak out,” said Harden. “The premier must strengthen whistleblower protection for frontline health workers who speak out about what they’ve witnessed in their workplaces.”
Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman is calling for expanded whistleblower protection, and said that PSWs who spoke out likely spurred government action, including calling in the Canadian Armed Forced, and saved lives.