The findings of the final report tabled by the Québec Ombudsman must be at the heart of the Government’s concerns so that the Government can swiftly act and prevent the tragedy that unfolded at CHSLDs during the spring 2020 from ever happening again. Healthcare professionals, and the families and relatives of CHSLD residents watched helplessly as this foretold tragedy unfolded. The Québec Ombudsman’s thorough investigation revealed the contributing factors that shrouded long-term care centres in almost complete invisibility. The hard-hitting report made public today is fully in keeping with the recommendations and the numerous criticisms the FIQ and the FIQP have repeatedly brought forward. Healthcare services must be immediately re-humanized.
The Québec Ombudsman’s final report describes how CHSLDs, seniors and caregivers were neglected in the government’s pandemic planning which focused on hospitals and freeing up beds. The CHSLDs were long under-resourced before the pandemic wreaked havoc and the situation was further exacerbated by the lack of personal protective equipment and local governance. The Quebec Ombudsman’s findings cannot be ignored and the Government must be held accountable.
A law on ratios is required
The Federations believe that the Government’s priority needs to be the adoption of a law on ratios to force the government and its managers to offer quality healthcare services. Almost a year ago, the Quebec Ombudsman stated in her special progress report that the Government must ensure that care teams have enough staff. One year later, because of a lack of political will, not much has changed on the ground. Staff mobility is still the norm, independent labour is more present than ever, and healthcare professional-to-patient ratios are still too high. In her final report, the Quebec Ombudsman reiterates her recommendation regarding sufficient staff ratios. The Government cannot afford to ignore this recommendation yet again.
“The report is damning for the Government. It failed in its duties by keeping CHSLDs in a blind spot. It did not protect the most vulnerable nor did it ensure the care and the rights of CHSLD residents were upheld. CHSLDs are still very fragile, and we are still waiting for the necessary actions to be taken. Financing and gradual implementation of ratios must be seen as a sustainable solution that will ensure more humane, quality and safe healthcare services. It will allow us to stabilize work loads and teams in the short term and counter the Government’s old habits of using staff mobility. This is what healthcare professionals have been demanding for a long time.”Nathalie Levesque, Interim President, Fédération interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec–FIQ.
Precautionary and prevention principles: action priorities
“What is saddening today is the realization that we needed a pandemic and sacrificed lives to understand the havoc successive governments’ wreaked because of their blatant disinterest in the living and working conditions of public, private and private subsidized CHSLDs. The alienation of occupational health and safety boards for the benefit of public health created a level of confusion that remains in place today. Experience shows us that the socio-health impacts of the pandemic could have been mitigated if the precautionary principle had been considered when managing risk from the onset.”Sonia Mancier, President, Fédération interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec–FIQ | Secteur privé–FIQP