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Parry Sound home care workers fight cuts to patient care

Parry Sound – Home care patients in Parry Sound and area face cuts to care if the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) goes ahead with plans to change working conditions for personal support workers (PSWs), the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“The VON is demanding that PSWs alter their collective agreement in a way that will cut care to patients,” said Kim Ainslie, a steward in OPSEU Local 320. “Caregivers refuse to go along with anything that shortchanges the people we care for.”

Last month, the VON threatened to walk away from its contract with the province if PSWs do not agree to re-open their collective agreement to include charting and travel time as part of each home care visit.  The VON told the union its funding would be reduced and it wouldn’t be able to keep operating if the government implements new standardized rates for home care. The contract was set to expire April 1, 2016. Yet the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has not made a decision on standardized rates, the union has learned.

The PSWs are standing firm in their opposition to cuts to care.  

“The PSWs currently spend their entire visit with a patient,” said Ainslie. “Changing the collective agreement to take time out of visits means less care, plain and simple. 

“We have organized a campaign to raise awareness and ensure that home care is not compromised.  We want everybody in Parry Sound and area to know about this.”  

Last December, Health Minister Eric Hoskins put out a discussion paper called Patients First: A Proposal to Strengthen Patient-Centred Health Care in Ontario. Its stated goal was to fix home care in the province. 

“What the VON is trying to do in Parry Sound is the opposite of putting patients first,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.  “We’re calling on the Minister to send a clear message to the VON in Parry Sound that any measures that hurt patients will not be tolerated.”

For more information:  Kim Ainslie, 705-774-4076