People standing at  apodium with raised fists
Photo: OPSEU

On Wednesday morning leaders from the Ontario Nurses Association, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees called on the Ontario government to prioritize home and community care workers and the services they provide across the province. 

ONA Provincial President Erin Ariss, RN, OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick and CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, gathered at the Ontario Legislature to voice their concerns about yet another restructuring to Home and Community Care Support Services, HCCSS, by the Progressive Conservative government.  

 “We cannot stand by as Doug Ford and his government cavalierly destroy yet another sector of Ontario’s health-care system,” said Erin Ariss Provincial President of ONA said.  “As those on the front lines, we clearly see the pitfalls of Bill 135 and the devastating impact it will have.  Our front-line home-care workers do vital work caring for Ontarians and deserve the respect of this government.  Instead, Ford is throwing this sector into chaos once again and harming the very people who rely on it – our patients and clients.”

Under the government’s Bill 135, the Convenient Care Act, all 14 HCCSS agencies will be amalgamated into one Shared Service Organization at the end of June. The leaders of ONA, OPSEU/SEFPO and CUPE say that this restructuring has been done without any consultation with those frontline workers who provide these services, and fear it will further fracture the home care sector, leaving workers and the people who use these services with even less support.  

Home care workers provide care to over 400,000 people in Ontario each month. HCCSS workers include nurses, personal support workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists and other healthcare workers who are committed to providing the care that Ontarians need. They triage patients who are leaving hospitals and ensure that they receive proper care at home, freeing up thousands of hospital beds that are desperately needed across the province.  

“This relentless push toward privatization in our healthcare system is splintering the very structures designed to ensure public health and safety – all in the relentless pursuit of corporate greed,” said JP Hornick of OPSEU,  ” The latest casualty in Sylvia Jones and Doug Ford’s profit-driven scheme? Home care – a critical aspect of healthcare delivery relied upon by countless Ontarians.  Prioritizing profit over patient care is fundamentally flawed and it is destined to fail.  Patients and healthcare providers know better, and they deserve better.”    

The unions say that as written, Bill 135 will increase job precarity, privatization and profit and that the new system is rife with conflicts of interest. 

“The Progressive Conservative government and their Convenient Care Act will further fracture an already broken system. Bill 135 perpetuates the fundamental problems in the health care sector and creates more uncertainty for home care workers. For years, CUPE and community health care advocates have called for an integrated and fully public health care system, where all workers receive fair wages and equitable working conditions,” CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn added. “These changes will further undermine and destabilize a home care system already under tremendous stress – we need to strengthen home and community care, not tear it down.” – Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. 

For years, unions representing HCCSS workers and allied organizations have called on the Ontario government to implement a fully public, integrated, and supported system of home care.  

ONA, OPSEU/SEFPO and CUPE leaders say they stand in solidarity with each other and will continue to work together to fight for home care workers and those who rely on their care across the province.