Canadians will never forget the horrible images of seniors suffering alone in private long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the more than 25,000 people who have died to date from the virus in Canada, nearly 70 per cent lived in long-term care facilities – and most of those were in private, for-profit care facilities, such as those owned by Revera, Inc.
The dangers of for-profit long-term care were known long before the pandemic. But COVID-19 has exposed the systemic failures of for-profit long-term care: staffing shortages, unsanitary conditions, and poor quality of care that leads to higher rates of acute illness. Recently, we have also learned that several seniors may not have died from COVID-19, but from dehydration and neglect. These failures will continue long after the pandemic ends – unless we do something to take profit out of long-term care. All long-term care must be delivered by public service workers in publicly owned and operated facilities if we want to prevent this national tragedy from happening again.
Throughout the pandemic, PSAC has been unwavering in its efforts to pressure the Public Service Pension Investment Board (PSPIB) to do the work necessary to put the long-term care homes owned by Revera into public ownership and operation. PSPIB manages the pension plans of federal public service workers and wholly owns Revera. Thousands of supporters have taken up the cause, written to their MPs and decision-makers and met at town halls across the country to express their outrage.
Parliamentarians have heard our call and will be studying PSPIB’s ownership of Revera at the Government Operations Committee of the House of Commons. We expect that testimony at this committee will leave the government and PSPIB with no other option but to make Revera public.
To keep up the pressure, and to give all Canadians an opportunity to tell the government that the situation needs to change, PSAC is launching a national campaign to bring long-term care into public hands. Public service workers' pensions profited while seniors died in Revera homes. PSAC demands that public sector workers’ pension contributions be reinvested in more ethical options, and end the suffering occurring in for-profit care homes.