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RENFREW, Ont. Frustrated by a secretive, behind-the-scenes provincial government review of how contracts are awarded in the home care sector, Renfrew home care advocates are calling on the McGuinty government to end competitive bidding once and for all. They are also urging Renfrew area home care clients and front line workers to share their experiences under the competitive bidding model by calling a telephone hotline set up by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) who represent home care workers.
The adverse realities of home care competitive bidding, and for-profit delivery, are being ignored by the McGuinty government, said Michael Hurley, President of OCHU and 1st Vice-President of CUPE Ontario, at a media conference today. Despite numerous promises to end competitive bidding in this sector, the Premier has put a halt to competitive bidding to study why it’s not working. It’s not working because when you privatize services, for-profit providers sacrifice quality and consistency of care by paying workers poorly and diverting dollars that should go into care to shareholders’ profits.
Since competition and for-profit providers were introduced a decade ago, the quality of home care has suffered and the costs of home care have gone up, according to a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care study by Elinor Caplan in 2005. As well, many long-time community non-profit providers, and their dedicated staff, have disappeared after years of dedicated service. Hundreds of thousands of hours of home care services have been turned over to for-profit providers.
The Premier believes that the lack of continuity of care is related to the loss of contracts by providers, said Hurley. The reality is that bad wages, hours, benefits and pensions have driven many dedicated front line workers out of the home care sector and broken the continuity of care that seniors, and others, depend on and deserve.
He added that casual, precarious work has become so rampant in the sector that the government’s goal is to get contractors to make at least 10% of personal support workers full time employees by 2011, itself a ridiculously small goal. The Caplan study showed that 57% of home care workers surveyed changed jobs in 12 months.
The telephone hotline will provide an opportunity for those in Renfrew directly affected by contract competition to have their experiences documented and relayed to the government. Renfrew residents receiving home care, and the front line workers who deliver it, are invited to call the home care hotline at 1-888-599-0770 to record their experiences arising from competitive bidding.
For more information, contact:
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications 647-225-3685
Michael Hurley OCHU President 416-884-0770 COPE491/EW