TORONTO Ontarios two largest public sector unions have joined a swelling chorus of voices calling for a moratorium on the process of awarding home care contracts until the province can completely review the system.
Competitive bidding, the model under which home care agencies submit their contract proposals to the provinces community care access centres (CCACs), has fueled a drive to the bottom for clients and workers, said Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario, and Leah Casselman, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), at a news conference today.
Although Dalton McGuinty predicted at a 1999 rally in support of Windsor VON that contracting services to the lowest bidder would result in a reduction in the quality of services, today as premier he seems reluctant to tackle a system that is close to crisis, they noted.
The competitive bidding model has taken money away from direct care with the result that seniors and persons with disabilities have seen their services cut, Ryan said. It has led to privatization of home care, with profits siphoned from services.
For-profit companies increased their share of home care from 18 per cent in 1995 to 48 per cent in 2001, according to a study published this year by researchers at the University of Toronto. The bidding process, which occurs every three to five years, creates instability for workers, who may lose their jobs, and for clients, who may suddenly have a new care provider.
Its likely that now, in 2004, for-profits are delivering the majority of home care visits, Casselman said. As if that wasnt enough, the health minister has plans with his Local Health Integration Networks to remake the entire health care system in a way that appears to be based on the model thats destroying home care.
The union leaders called for a moratorium on new contracts and, ultimately, a public, non-profit home care system, an end to competitive bidding, democratization of CCACs so that they once again represent communities and successor rights and other protections for workers.
For more information, contact:
416-299-9739 ext. 264