Home care system needs to be fixed

TheStar.com – Opinion/letter – Home care system needs to be fixed
January 22, 2009

Re:Essential home-care workers are hard to find, Jan. 16

Thanks for shining the spotlight on the labour issues that lie at the heart of our broken home care system. Any solution to the shortage of home-care workers in Ontario must focus on the eradication of the unstable and unreliable system of competitive bidding in home care that diverts public dollars away from patient care and into the pockets of for-profit companies.

When introduced in 1997, competitive bidding was heralded as a vehicle for improved care for seniors and massive savings for government. Since then, many non-profit agencies have been undercut by large private for-profit firms. Compensation and working conditions of home care workers have deteriorated considerably. Ontario home care workers now face low wages, job insecurity, poor or no benefits and lack adequate compensation for travel time.

So it is not surprising that there is a very high turnover rate in the sector. So long as competitive bidding continues, home care workers will continue to face poor working conditions and the sector will be unstable and unable to provide high quality care. Ontario’s home care system is broken. We can fix it.

France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, NDP Critic for Health & Long-Term Care

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