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Each May, in recognition of the birthday of Florence Nightingale, we recognize the contributions that nurses make to our health-care system. But in these extraordinary times, it has become even more apparent just how vital the role of a nurse is.
In long-term care homes, hospitals and clinics throughout our province, nurses continue providing unparalleled care to their patients despite unprecedented challenges. There is perhaps no better example of the passion and dedication of nurses than the thousands who have stepped forward and volunteered to come out of retirement to join the fight against this virus.
As Ontarians, we expect health-care professionals to care for us in our darkest hours. But we also rightly expect that our government will provide them with the tools they need to keep them safe and help them do their jobs. The least we can do is ensure that these frontline heroes are given the resources and protective equipment they need. The least we can do is fight for those who risk their own lives to save ours.
That is why today, I am asking the Ford government to take the following concrete steps to keep Ontario’s nurses as safe as possible while they put their lives on the line to protect us all:
- Follow the lessons learned from SARS and ensure that where there is uncertainty in the scientific community about potential threats to public health, the government should always take reasonable efforts to reduce risk to the public;
- Take immediate steps to ensure that every frontline health-care professional in any setting – particularly those screening or treating suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients – has access to proper PPE to protect them, their patients and their colleagues;
- Mandate full pay for any lost wages associated with working in one facility only to ensure that health-care workers are not financially penalized for helping to keep Ontarians safe;
- Direct that every health-care worker who is in self-isolation, after returning from travel or after exposure to COVID-19 patients, will continue to receive full pay during that time;
- Commit to holding a fully independent public inquiry, once the current crisis eases, to examine the response to COVID-19 within the long-term care sector and explore what the future of seniors’ care should look like in Ontario;
- Immediately reverse all cuts to Ontario’s regional public health units brought in as a result of the 2019 Ontario budget.
As extraordinarily painful and difficult as the last few months have been, we know that it would have been that much harder without the heroic efforts of our nurses and other frontline workers.
Thank you to all of the nurses in Ontario for the care and compassion that you offer day-in and day-out. We owe you our gratitude and, more importantly, the support you need to do your jobs safely and effectively.