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Coronavirus: Ontario Nurses’ Association calls work conditions in care homes ‘unfathomable’

Click to play video 'Provinces seek more help for overwhelmed and understaffed seniors’ homes' Provinces seek more help for overwhelmed and understaffed seniors’ homes
WATCH ABOVE: With long-term care homes across Canada becoming hotspots for COVID-19, some provinces are scrambling to provide more help for them. David Akin explains what's being done, and some of the new rules workers must follow.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) says the conditions in which its staff are working in long-term care homes are “unfathomable” during the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

The association said in a statement Wednesday that long-term care homes pre-COVID-19 were already understaffed, but now they are in “crisis” mode.

READ MORE: Woman with Down syndrome in critical condition as Markham, Ont. care home sees COVID-19 surge

The association said it is continuing to call on the provincial government to help supply personal protective equipment and guidelines to protect not only the nurses and staff, but the vulnerable residents who reside in care and retirement homes.

“As the media has noted, dozens of long-term care facilities across Ontario are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks and resident deaths,” said Vicki McKenna, ONA president. “Our hearts go out to the residents and their families, and to the staff who provide the day-to-day care – and who consequently become very close to their residents.

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“Our nurses and all health-care workers in this sector are doing the very best they can, even as dozens of them become infected themselves.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario directive clearing asymptomatic staff for care home work raises questions

Some of the changes the ONA is asking the government for is a better strategy to create separation between sick residents, as well as sick staff.

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The organization thanked the Ford government for hearing their call to stop part-time and casual long-term care staff from working at multiple locations.

As of Wednesday morning, the province was experiencing 133 outbreaks at different care homes, including 135 deaths.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Doug Ford opens door to systemic changes to Ontario’s long-term care system

Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement about further measures in the province’s “enhanced action plan” to protect the elderly during the pandemic on Wednesday afternoon from Queen’s Park.

Included in the new plan, will be more testing for both the vulnerable residents and staff, as well as increased infection control.

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

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