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Tinkering with a flawed and expensive contract bidding system is ill-advised and will not yield better quality care for Ontario’s growing and ageing population, say front line staff and not-for-profit home care advocates calling for a permanent end to home competitive bidding and province-wide public hearings to build a fully public, not-for-profit system.

Patricia Pitt-Anderson, a personal support worker (PSW) with a Toronto home care agency and a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) urged Premier Dalton McGuinty to intervene personally to end home care competitive bidding.

I am appealing directly to the Premier to put the care back in home care,” said Pitt-Anderson who has worked as a PSW for 20 years. She sees the “bad effects of contract competition every day on the job. There is a shortage of workers because the work is hard and our wages are low. I’m forced to rush through visits providing care. Then I rush to the next patient. That’s not quality care.”

The evidence against home care competitive bidding is stacking up. Since competition was introduced, the quality of care has suffered, working conditions have diminished, and costs have increased, as for-profit providers have taken over home care province-wide.

Ontario is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to prop up the system of competitive bidding which has diminished the scope of services available for Ontario’s most frail and vulnerable residents. The problems in Ontario’s home care system are so severe they have resulted in two province-wide moratoriums already. It is time for Premier Dalton McGuinty to ensure that a proper process and full set of policy options receive due consideration, nothing less will do,” said Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC).

The OHC is holding home care town hall forums in Peterborough, Guelph, Kingston, and Toronto.

After halting home care competitive bidding for the second time in four years, the Ontario Liberal government is again considering its next steps for home care delivery. But the review is being done without input or public consultations with Ontarians.

With Ontario’s seniors’ population set to double in the next 16 years, “many more of us will access some type of community-based home care in the near future,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). CUPE/OCHU is calling for province-wide public hearings on building a public, not-for-profit, cooperative model for home care. “Competitive bidding and for-profit delivery is unsuited for publicly funded home care. We should have a say on building a system that improves care for patients and working conditions for front line home care staff.”

While the province is doing an internal review of competitive bidding, CUPE wants to hear about people’s experiences with home care under a competitive model. Beginning today, a home care hotline number —
(1-888-599-0770) — will be available for people to relay stories about the level of service and working conditions.
Over the next few weeks, CUPE will announce the hotline number in Sudbury, North Bay, Niagara, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Cornwall, Oshawa, Barrie, Kitchener/Waterloo.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Hurley                President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions      416-844-0770  
Patricia Pitt-Anderson     President, CUPE 3808                                        416-970-5443
Natalie Mehra                 Director, Ontario Health Coalition                       416-230-6402
Stella Yeadon                 CUPE Communications                                       416-578-8774