Workers Fight for Human-Centred Alternatives

Ontario Nurses Oppose Damaging Changes to Home and Community Care

July 22-24, 2020. ONA actions against Ford government's attacks on health care workers.

The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), on February 17, wrote to Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, on behalf of 419 of the 517 care coordinators of the Central East Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) for Durham Region, Haliburton County and City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County, Peterborough City and County, and Scarborough, on the subject: "Protect home and community care -- save care coordinator jobs." The ONA represents 68,000 Ontario nurses and it continues to sound the alarm about regulations related to Bill 175, the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, 2020 passed last July which seriously jeopardizes the quality of organizing and delivering care in local communities.

When the ONA made a written submission to the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Bill 175 on June 15, 2020, it raised serious concerns about the legislation and the accompanying regulations. Of particular concern was the role of care coordinators who are their members, whether or not those members would have their employment (including compensation, pension and union representation) automatically transferred to the new Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) from the LHINs.

They also raised concerns about the role of care coordinators in the new system, whether the intent of the legislation was to open the door for private home care contractors to manage their own care coordination, and whether some of the care coordinators would be excluded by the new requirement that home care assessments be performed by a regulated health professional (some current care coordinators are social workers, for example, a profession not part of the Regulated Health Professions Act). The regulations speak of "care coordination functions" and do not even use the term "care coordinator" and state that Health Service Providers would be responsible for care coordination "and would have the flexibility to assign care coordination functions to contracted providers or, through mutual agreement, to partner organizations."

Below are excerpts from the letter the ONA sent Minister Elliot on February 17:

"Given the crucial role that care coordinators play in reducing hospital overcrowding and ensuring dignified and quality care for clients at home and in the community, we urgently ask that you change the regulations under Bill 175 to ensure they do not threaten our care coordinator jobs. [...]

"Bill 175's regulations jeopardize care coordinator jobs by strongly suggesting our jobs will either be cut entirely, as they are currently structured, or privatized to for-profit health service providers. Transferring our jobs to profit-making home care corporations would mean lower pay and benefits and poorer working conditions, while the profit-margins of the corporations prosper. It also poses a clear conflict of interest if the corporation delivering the care is also responsible for determining the amount of care that is approved. If this transition proceeds, it risks sparking a major retention crisis among the ranks of care coordinators, as our colleagues seek to preserve pay and working conditions by moving to hospitals or other public sector jobs. No one can afford this, least of all the clients who depend on our full scope and experience as care coordinators. [...]

"We ask that you amend the provisions in the regulations under Bill 175 to guarantee the protection of care coordinator jobs and the continuity of vital care for their clients."

This article was published in

Voluem [volume] Number 9 - February 22, 2021 - No. 9

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