Union president worried some LTC staff may leave field due to COVID

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The president of Unifor Local 2458 is worried things will get to a point where there's not enough staff to take care of residents in long-term care homes in Windsor-Essex.

Tulio DiPonti, who's union represents the workers at several long-term care homes across the region, is reacting to a rising number of COVID-19 cases within homes across the region.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported Tuesday that there are outbreaks at 26 long-term care homes and retirement homes in the region.

The health unit says there are roughly 300 active cases in the homes, involving more than 160 staff members.

DiPonti says staff members are at the point where they don't see an end to it at all.

"The ones who've got COVID are petrified in the sense that they don't know whether or not they want to go back to this field, because there's no relief whatsoever. This government has made no effort to really try to get the staffing that they need in these facilities," he says.

DiPonti says staffing levels are already impacted but it could get much worse.

"We know out of around 22 homes, some retirement, we have a lot of our members who are off right now. It's revolving door. You might come back but there might just be as many people going off because they're catching it," he says.

DiPonti adds that they can't go on like this too much longer because residents need all the bodies they can get to take of them, but the Omicron virus has created havoc in those homes.

With files from Rob Hindi