Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, 2,892 healthcare workers have contracted the virus and five have reportedly died.
According to the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic account for 15.8% of the province’s coronavirus cases.
“The number is trending up, not down,” the statement said.
On Wednesday, hospital, long-term care and home care nurses, personal support workers (PSWs), cleaners and administrative staff represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) will take part in a workplace action, protesting safety concerns and calling on Premier Doug Ford for greater assistance, OCHU said.
Earlier this morning, CUPE Ontario and OCHU had a zoom conference discussing their “fears and anxiety” of working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
The conference discussed how the “province continues to ignore that protections based on the precautionary principle that assumes some airborne COVID transmission are needed to stop the spread of the virus.”
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Concerns were also raised on how healthcare worker infections are being reported and what seems to be the “concerted denial” of coronavirus-related Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims.
The hospital unions have further concerns with the Ontario government’s rhetoric on opening up parts of the economy by resuming some surgeries and opening up select businesses.
“Supplies are dangerously low in hospitals and long-term care homes where 1,003 residents have sadly died. Ontario faces this protective equipment shortage and yet the government has not ordered industry to manufacture the needed supplies,” OCHU said.
It was also noted that the “long-promised masks” and other personal protective equipment (PPE) have not yet arrived.
On April 20, Ontario’s top health officials said that the province was in the peak of coronavirus cases amongst the general population.
However, cases in long-term care homes and other congregate settings are still increasing and continue to be a “major concern” with the Province saying actions were underway to protect vulnerable people in these settings.
On April 30, Ford said that the “curve was flattening” and there had not been the surge in cases originally projected.
To date, there are 18,722 total coronavirus cases with 1,429 reported deaths in Ontario.