Home care services of more than 1500 infirm and elderly, inner city patients provided by Toronto’s Neighbourhood Group are still in peril of coming to an end despite today’s announcement of additional sector-wide funding by the provincial government.
Personal Support Workers from Neighbourhood Group provide home care to low income or difficult to care for patients in central Toronto. These workers speak dozens of different languages that reflect Toronto’s diversity and are often the lifeline for many isolated clients.
“This money is for new spaces across the province but does not address the current funding gap to cover the actual cost of services already being provided,” says Heather Duff, Chair of CUPE Ontario’s Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee. “Both the Premier and the Minister of Health are well aware that Neighbourhood Group has said they will have to shut down their services without additional money to cover existing costs.”
“New money for Home Care is desperately needed, but we need a bit of a reality check here,” says Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. “Neighbourhood Group isn’t the only provider struggling to keep its doors open. Home care agencies across the province do not have enough money to maintain their current service levels. Pretending that new services can come online without addressing significant funding shortfalls will not solve our problems.”
Previously the Premier met directly with personal support workers from Neighbourhood Group when she discovered how badly they were paid. At that point the Premier promised modest wage enhancements for these workers which came through, but now the organization insists they need to claw it back if they are to stay open.
“Sometimes we visit our patients up to five times a day. We know them well. They trust us and we are like family to them. Those relationships would be severed if the home care program at our agency closes,” says Connie Ndlovu one of 218 Neighbourhood Group PSWs who will be put out of work if the program closes.
“The new money announced today is important, but how can the government focus on service expansion without actually maintaining the services already provided?” asked Duff. “The people serviced by Neighbourhood Group are isolated from society on so many levels. Losing their care would be devastating. The government needs to address this problem before it’s too late.”
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