CUPE welcomes the 5-year $1.5 billion investment earmarked for home care in the budget tabled March 21 by Quebec Finance Minister, Éric Girard. These investments are a necessary step toward rebuilding the public health and social services system that was rocked by the Barrette-Couillard one-two punch. However, the government is clearly unwilling to funnel this money into the public system and can hire more support workers.

“The investment is good news, but now we need to make the most of it. To do so, we must follow the example set by British Columbia, which has just brought home support work back in-house under the province’s health authorities. In Quebec, we’ve seen terrible results with private agencies and social enterprises,” said Frédéric Brisson, president of CUPE Quebec’s social services council.

“We know what we get with private home care: more staff turnover, less training and poor integration into the public system. This means lower quality and less stability for patients. Health and social service support workers in the public system are much better connected with occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, and so on,” added Frédéric Brisson.

CUPE is also deeply concerned that the budget announces “increased financing to community organizations” under the heading of “health and social services,” which may be a signal the public system will be shedding some responsibilities. For these same reasons, the union is concerned about the terms for the establishment of the “seniors’ homes” the budget mentions.

In short, CUPE is pleased the Legault government fully recognizes the importance of home care in taking some of the pressure off the rest of the system and enabling patients to remain in their homes as long as possible. The union will continue to impress upon the new government just how important staying in the public system is to the future of accessible, universal, free and top-quality care.