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TRUROCUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh says any plan by the McNeil Government to consider privatizing home support (home care) services should raise alarm bells for Nova Scotians.

The province has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop a compulsory competitive bidding system for home support that appears to be fashioned after a failed model in Ontario. Most home support services in Nova Scotia are currently provided by non-profit agencies which have highly-qualified staff. These are Continuing Care Assistants, or CCAs.

Says Cavanagh, “Their plan will pave the way for commercialization of our province’s home support services through competitive bidding. They want to de-skill these workers so they can pay them lower wages, erode their working conditions and take away any other benefits they might have.”

CUPE Home Support Co-ordinator Marianne Welsh, meanwhile, says,” We know that Ontario’s experiment with competitive bidding for home support services was disastrous. It started with the Mike Harris PCs in the mid-1990s. That government was forced to freeze competitive bidding in the face of community opposition.

“Later, the Dalton McGuinty Liberals attempted to reintroduce competitive bidding, but they too suspended the initiative because of concerns about quality of care.

“Most recently, problems in the home support sector emerged as an election issue with the now Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynn committing to increase wages for home support workers following a province- wide strike in the sector in the winter of 2013-2014,” says Welsh.

CUPE Nova Scotia has made a submission to the Department of Health and Wellness Continuing Care Branch on the proposed RFP process for home support.