Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

December 16, 2008 12:30 ET

OPSEU Vows to Fight Third Round of Home Care Bidding

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 16, 2008) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union pledges to work with communities in heading off the next phase of bidding for home care clients.

Health Minister David Caplan waited until after the legislature recessed before announcing Dec 15 the controversial lifting of the latest moratorium on home care bidding. Contract bidding is scheduled to resume in the fall of 2009.

OPSEU's Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) members in Niagara and Hamilton have been at the forefront of battles that resulted in two moratoriums to the competitive bidding system in 2004 and 2008.

"Ontario is the only province that handles home care in this way," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the 130,000 member public sector union. "It is a bad Harris-era idea that has failed in delivering quality care, in saving money, or retaining workers in the system."

The union is disappointed the health minister chose to ignore an expert panel which toured the province last summer listening to caregivers, patients, families, non-profit agencies, community groups and the public.

"The latest changes fail to address the flight of workers, which has been at the heart of these battles," says Thomas. "What nurse would want to remain in a system where they are thrown out of a job every time a contract changes over and asked to seek new employment at a lower rate of pay, fewer vacation days, loss of pension, and fewer, if any benefits?"

OPSEU says competitive bidding has been a continual race to the bottom that has not served clients well.

In Hamilton, where nurses at the VON and St. Joseph's Home Care were on the cusp of losing their jobs last January, that flight has continued. Last week the Hamilton CCAC had to acknowledge that no agencies were accepting referrals as a result of nursing shortages. If home care agencies are incapable of accepting referrals, patients have little choice but to remain longer in hospital or seek accommodation in a nursing home.

The urgency to accommodate hospital patients in the Hamilton area has resulted in some patients being transferred to hotels and visited by home care nurses.

The announcement also comes on the heels of a criminal case where a 69-year old stroke victim was abused by an ex-girlfriend and her companion under the nose of a private home care agency contracted by a Community Care Access Centre.

Contact Information

  • OPSEU Local 269 (VON Hamilton)
    Lucy Morton
    (905) 317-9464