QUEEN'S PARK — NDP MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre), Homelessness and Anti-Poverty critic Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York) and Tenant Rights critic Suze Morrison (Toronto Centre) released a statement in response to a Dec. 16 transcript from the province's Long-Term Care Commission proceedings, which describes an Ottawa shelter outbreak started by long-term care workers who were homeless, because they couldn't afford rent:
"We are horrified by Dr. Jeff Turnbull's account of essential health care workers in Ottawa — long-term care workers helping to keep our most vulnerable loved ones safe in a global pandemic — being paid such a low wage that they are living in a homeless shelter.
We can’t fathom working long, dangerous, physically and emotionally devastating days in a long-term care home during this pandemic, then checking into a crowded shelter to sleep between shifts. We can’t fathom hearing Doug Ford call health care workers 'heroes,' then receiving a paycheque that can’t cover even the most basic of needs.
The Ford government and Liberal and Conservative governments before him have built this cruel system, in which long-term care staff are underpaid, while for-profit long-term care owners rake in cash. Ford has refused to give long-term care workers a raise to a living wage. And he is sitting on billions of dollars in COVID-19 funding, withholding it rather than investing it in long-term care.
He has also refused to enforce a ban on evictions, or to allow essential workers paid sick days.
This never should have happened. If the Ontario NDP were the government right now, private profits would not be put ahead of people’s lives. We would get for-profit companies out of long-term care. We would give underpaid health care workers an immediate raise, and full-time jobs, so our health care heroes can afford a decent, safe home.
We’d also enact our housing plan, which includes help with the rent for hundreds of thousands of people. And during this pandemic, we would have a ban on evictions, and funding for isolation accommodations for health care workers who want to do everything they can to protect residents and patients.”