Home Care Roadmap has potential, but beware of some dangerous pitfalls: Ontario Health Coalition | National Union of Public and General Employees

Home Care Roadmap has potential, but beware of some dangerous pitfalls: Ontario Health Coalition

"If the Minister follows his panel without questioning the pro-privatization slant of their recommendations, there is a very high danger of for-profit privatization of home care, including care coordination and care provision functions. This is absolutely not in the public interest.” — Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition executive director

Toronto (15 May 2015) — The Ontario Minister of Health, Eric Hoskins, released a plan for home care across the province. The plan comes on the heels of a scathing report by an expert government-commissioned panel.

Ontario Health Coalition concerned new plan opens door to privatization of home care

Unfortunately, as the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) points out, the plan to reform home care is short on details. The broad steps outlined in it contain potential for a strong and progressive vision to emerge, but there are also perils that the Coalition is urging Health Minister Eric Hoskins to avoid.

“We want to be positive and we want to be able to applaud progressive steps by the Health Minister,” said Natalie Mehra, OHC executive director, “but this 'Roadmap' does not actually contain any concrete commitment to provide access to care for people in need. It does not establish clear public coverage for any level of home care services."

According to Mehra, the Health Coalition is also concerned about "the potential implementation of a complex system of contracting out and subcontracting home care that the Minister’s panel proposed, which would make the system even more complex and fragmented. If the Minister follows his panel without questioning the pro-privatization slant of their recommendations, there is a very high danger of for-profit privatization of home care, including care coordination and care provision functions. This is absolutely not in the public interest.”

Ontarians need principled leadership to establish home care as a critical part of public Medicare

“The home care system is currently a mess. There is no right to care for patients or clients. There is no community control or democracy,” said Ross Sutherland, the OHC chairperson who is a registered nurse and formerly a home care nurse. “While we support the plan for public consultation on some key issues, we have to note that there already has been a great deal of public outcry and there is a fairly deep consensus on what the problems and needs are."

Sutherland continues, "What Ontario really needs now is principled leadership with the political will to establish home care as a part of public Medicare that must be funded to meet need, and a principled approach that embraces equity and compassion for patients and treats the workforce fairly. We want to raise a warning with the Minister of Health that in some serious ways his reforms could make things a lot worse if the perils of privatization, market-modelled home care and austerity are not avoided.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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