'I'm here to give my support': Dozens of rallies take place in N.S. in support of long-term care workers, residents
Twenty-five rallies took place across Nova Scotia Tuesday, all part of a day of action calling on the provincial government to support long-term care workers and residents.
"Working in the nursing home has been very exhausting to the staff. They're working short on a continuous basis. They're being mandated 12, 24, 36 hour shifts because there's not enough staff,” said Louise Riley, president of CUPE Nova Scotia’s long-term care committee, at a rally in Halifax.
Residents and loved ones showed up in solidarity with long-term care workers in Eastern Passage, N.S.
"I'm supporting my girls. They look after us so, so well and I love them to death,” said Mo Darek, a long-term care resident.
"I'm here to give my support to these beautiful workers who show care and compassion each and every day,” added Gary Siepierski, whose mother lives in a long-term care facility.
Those who work in long-term care say more staff is needed.
"The weekends are the worst and the evenings I would say. We're looking at two staff members, sometimes three, to care for 30 residents on each unit. These levels leave us with not proper care for our residents in our nursing homes," said Monica Martin, a continuing care assistant.
Workers say they also want to be paid more for the work they do.
"The pay rate is just not acceptable for the work that we do here. We deserve more. The residents deserve more,” said Paula MacDonald, a continuing care assistant.
"The wages are very low in nursing homes because you're working anywhere between $17/hr and $19/hr and we're looking for a substantial increase,” added Riley.
Barbara Adams, Nova Scotia’s new seniors and long-term care minister, stopped by the rally in Eastern Passage to speak with workers.
"I worked in this nursing home for six months during the pandemic. This is my family and both as the minister and as their friend and colleague I wanted to show them my support,” said Adams.
She said the Progressive Conservative government wants to work with the union and plans to take action to ensure each long-term care resident receives 4.1 hours of direct care per day.
"We need more staff per resident and so the way to do that is to legislate the 4.1 hours of care per senior per day and our government is prepared to do that,” said Adams.
There is no timeline for when that legislation will be introduced.