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The Ottawa Sun
Thu 03 Apr 2008
Byline: BY ELISABETH JOHNS, SUN MEDIA
The union representing homecare workers called yesterday on the province to officially put an end to for-profit competitive bidding in that sector.
Competitive bidding leads to a high turnover in staff and has come at the expense of the frail elderly, which represent the major demographic that accesses home care, and the not-for-profit organizations like the Victorian Order of Nurses, said Michael Hurley, regional vice-chairman of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s constituency office on Kilborn Ave. was the first stop during CUPE’s province-wide tour to protest competitive bidding and raise awareness about a hotline they’ve set up.
The telephone number is for people in the city directly affected by contract competition to tell their experience with it to CUPE representatives. It can be reached by phoning 1-888-599-0770.
LOSS OF JOBS
Competitive bidding is a system introduced under the Conservative government that requires public home care agencies to contract out services, CUPE officials said.
Workers are losing their jobs and this system is detrimental to patient care, said Hugh Armstrong, a professor of social work at Carleton University.
Debbie Chaudhari, a home care worker in Ottawa, said she has been hearing from fellow colleagues whose services are contracted out that they can’t make ends meet.
“So we have trouble retaining and trouble recruiting,” she said. “Nobody wants to work in it.”
The province has put a temporary ban on bidding of home care contracts following a provincial review and concerns that were brought forward by patients in Hamilton, said Laurel Ostfield, spokeswoman for Health Minister George Smitherman.
“We are currently receiving feedback from different groups,” she said, “and we are currently listening to that advice.
“We just want to make sure we get it right before moving ahead.”