"We call on the government to reject any recommendation that would start us down the path of a two-tiered home care system based on income." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (06 Aug. 2015) — A report released by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has provided 28 key recommendations on how to guide Manitoba’s home care program into the future.
The audit examined how two regional health authorities, Southern Health-Santé Sud and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, that serve almost 75 per cent of Manitoba’s home care clients, manage and deliver home care services.
Home care audit concerns echos those of MGEU/NUPGE members
Even though Manitoba has one of the best home care programs in the country, Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU/NUPGE) says there is still a lot of room for improvement, as many of the findings in the OAG report echo concerns MGEU/NUPGE members have been raising for years.
Included in the report is a recommendation to review “the reasonableness and consistency” of standard task time allotments “to ensure they are appropriate.”
“This is something our members have voiced concern about for quite some time. Many aren’t provided with enough time to perform the care clients need and deserve. Our members are also concerned about the scheduling challenges they deal with every day. These are two important areas we think the employer can do better, and hopefully this report will help remedy those issues.”
Creation of permanent and full-time jobs will allow for improved continuity of care
The report also criticizes the RHAs’ implementation of the EFT initiative, a process to create more permanent and full-time home care jobs. Gawronsky agrees that management needs to do a better job of scheduling, while affirming the importance of the initiative.
“When it comes down to it, what we need are more permanent, full-time jobs. Less staff turnover and more continuity of care is better for clients and I think everyone agrees that’s the direction we need to go.”
MGEU/NUPGE disagrees with report's suggestion of income-testing home care clients
There are, however, some recommendations outlined in the report, which the union cannot agree with — particularly the recommendation to develop processes to verify a client’s ability to pay “if it is relevant in assessing the availability of a community resource.”
“I’m very concerned that the report discusses income-testing,” says Gawronsky. “Home care is an essential part of our universal health care system, and it should be delivered on the basis of need, not the size of your wallet. We call on the government to reject any recommendation that would start us down the path of a two-tiered home care system based on income. That is not what home care is about.”
Audit misses a major concern for home care workers: compensation for all hours worked
The OAG report also fails to provide a much-needed recommendation to pay home care staff for the full day they have worked. Home care staff are often required to put in more hours than they are paid and Gawronsky says that’s just not fair.
“It needs to be fixed, and that’s part of the reason why home care workers are holding a rally tomorrow,” she says. “It’s time to fix what’s broken in home care, and it’s time to show our community support members the respect they deserve by providing a fair and reasonable contract offer after two long years at the bargaining table.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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