SEIU Canada (Service Employees International Union - Canada)

SEIU Canada (Service Employees International Union - Canada)

March 25, 2009 10:35 ET

Media Advisory-SEIU: Ontario's Budget Must Include Funding to Home Care

QUEEN'S PARK, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 25, 2009) - As the McGuinty Government unveils its budget on Thursday, they must not forget to include provisions for the near forgotten home care sector, according to Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada.

"The home care industry is in tatters. Many qualified home care workers have left for better paying jobs, while the ones who have stayed do so out of a sense of loyalty to their clients. The system isn't working for the people who receive services or the people who provide them," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1.

Women and men who provide home care services in Ontario are often surviving on wages that leave them below the poverty line. While the government has set a "minimum wage" of $12.50 an hour - home care workers are only paid for a fraction of the hours in their work day. Home care providers spend as much as a third of their day travelling from client to client - time that no home care agency provides real compensation for. In her 2005 report on home care Elinor Caplan called on the government to set basic standards for travel time that all agencies would adhere to. Three years later this has not happened.

Because of competition between service providers (know as "competitive bidding") agencies are constantly forced to reduce costs - meaning agencies that attempt to improve working conditions to address high turnover rates are placed at a competitive disadvantage.

"The attitude of many agencies is like a bottom feeder- racing to the bottom and worrying about delivery of service later," said Stewart.

During tough economic times the government should offer efficient, reliable, cost effective health care- home care has proven time and time again that it is cheaper than hospital stays or long-term care facilities. If home care workers were treated like the professionals they are, the industry, which is growing, would thrive. Instead there are ongoing problems like the 3,000 Red Cross home care workers who began strike action on Monday.

"Ontario's home care system isn't working. The McGuinty Government has adopted a system that leaves the professionals who provide key home health services living below the poverty line. The services our members provide are a vital part of the health care system, and the McGuinty Government has to take responsibility," said Stewart.

Please visit our home care website: http://runningonempty.ca.

Contact Information

  • SEIU
    Pat Chastang
    Media Relations
    (416) 709-0501