Toronto – “Embedded privatization” is killing home care, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union told a legislative committee yesterday.
In comments on Bill 41, the Patients First Act, OPSEU said the proposed legislation fails entirely to address the contracting-out of home care services that siphons public money into private, for-profit companies at the expense of patients and workers alike.
“The competitive bidding process has been a major catalyst in driving down wages and benefits for those working in the home care sector,” said Lucy Morton, chair of OPSEU’s Health Care Divisional Council. “In a system rife with privatization, workers are increasingly faced with precarious work, where they are underpaid and unprotected. But these workers are the backbone of the health care system, and the health of patients depends on a healthy workforce.”
OPSEU is calling for the elimination of contracting-out and the implementation of a fully public, non-profit home care system. Patients depend on these services and ought to have rights in accessing them. This is in line with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care’s promise to protect our universal public health care system, Morton said.
In her presentation, Morton called on the government to amend Bill 41 to make Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) accountable to local communities. The bill gives the LHINs more power to restructure local health care, but not more accountability to the people affected, she said.
This is troubling for rural communities, whose voices are often excluded from urban-centric conversations about health care needs. While consultation with the public and the workforce is crucial to health system planning, the LHINs are not required to consult in any meaningful way. OPSEU is calling for democratically-elected LHIN boards and the implementation of meaningful consultation processes.
“A health system that is public, accountable and transparent puts patients before profits,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU. “Bill 41 could be an opportunity for positive change within the health care system, but there is work yet to be done to strengthen the capacity of this legislation to truly put patients first.”
To view OPSEU’s full submission, please visit:
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Lucy Morton, 905-317-9464