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Toronto- January 29/08- The McGuinty government has announced that it is halting the competitive bidding process for home care contracts across the province. The move comes less than two weeks after a massive home care rally in Hamilton supported by CUPE Ontario, CUPE 4800 and other unions was held to protest the disqualification of St Joseph’s Home Care and Victorian Order of Nurses from the bidding process.
This is a major outstanding victory. The government has backed down after years of campaigning by CUPE Ontario and its members that competitive bidding is a disastrous policy, said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. The ramifications of this move are extremely significant for other initiatives like LHINs. It sets a precedent for further policy shifts that would move the McGuinty government off the notion of making a market out of the health care system.
In a letter to all Community Care Access Centre (CCACs) Chairs dated January 28th, Assistant Deputy Minister for Health Hugh MacLeod asks CCACs to cancel current client services competitive procurement processes and not restart processes until further notice. The memo says that the government is reviewing the bidding process and related policies and procedures to “ensure they support the principles of putting the client first, continuity of care and stability for health care workers to ensure Ontarians receive the highest quality home care services possible.”
In announcing the decision, Health Minister George Smitherman said that his focus is on maintaining the quality of services currently being provided. “I work for patients and I am not going to put their relationships with health care workers at risk. To ensure there is no uncertainty, existing contracts will be extended,” he said. “In the meantime, we have a fair bit of policy work to do.