SEIU Local 1 Canada

SEIU Local 1 Canada

May 29, 2009 07:00 ET

Ontario's Retirement Homes Are Failing to Care for Seniors

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 29, 2009) - SEIU Local 1 Canada is calling upon the Ontario Government to introduce regulations for retirement homes to ensure that our seniors are cared for properly.

Ontario law stipulates that retirement homes are only obligated to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act, which was never intended to regulate health care providers. At best, a retirement home may belong to the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA), which has a voluntary affiliation policy and no oversight or enforcement mechanisms. Large retirement home chains such as Amica Mature Lifestyles, which have been expanding their operations across Ontario, are operating as a primary care provider for a lot of citizens, without any of the usual levels of accountability.

"Retirement homes have the same legal obligations as a college dorm room," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada. "Most people know that the needs of a 17-year old are very different from an 87-year old."

Many retirement homes in Ontario such as Amica have accepted residents who are suffering from severe health problems such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and dementia. Yet many companies like Amica do not have adequately staffed homes to provide the necessary care. Most private chains gamble with care levels to secure higher profits.

Employees in retirement homes also paid poorly, receive few or no medical benefits, and are generally restricted to part-time schedules.

"Yet the burden of responsibility to care for the residents, whatever the specialized care needs are, falls completely on the shoulders of retirement home staff. Certainly not on the shareholders who are reaping the profits," added Stewart.

The Ontario Government needs to create a legislated Retirement Home Act that would:

- Spell out the personal, medical, dietary, recreational and social service obligations retirement homes must provide

- Create a Resident's Bill of Rights

- Create democratically elected Residents Councils to aid retirement home residents to govern their own affairs

- Hire enough staff members to care for residents appropriately

- Train and screen staff appropriately

- Inspect homes on a regular basis

- Define different types and classes of retirement homes

This will not only help to ensure that seniors receive the type of care that is needed, but will also improve working conditions for those people who have unselfishly chosen this career.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada represents more than 46,000 health care and community services workers in Ontario. SEIU members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes and community services throughout the province.

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