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Health Coalition says Bill 175 would increase long-term care privatization

Posted: July 8, 2020

(July 7, 2020)

By: Jake Romphf, Chatham Daily News

The Ontario Health Coalition is calling out the Ontario government’s handling of long-term care homes by criticizing Bill 175, which the group says would increase privatization.
Some of the coalition’s Southwestern Ontario representatives held a Zoom press conference Friday to speak out against the bill, which looks to amend and repeal various acts on home care and community service.

“Bill 175 should just flatly be withdrawn,” said Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Chatham-Kent, Sarnia, Wallaceburg and Walpole Island First Nation health coalitions. “It has been hastily created, it is going to fragment home care and community care to a point that people who are users of home care will not receive the care they need.”

The Ontario government said the legislation doesn’t enable more privatization, but would “allow for Ontario Health Teams to deliver more innovative models of home and community care.”

“Patients will benefit from primary care, hospitals, home and community care and longterm care providers being able to collaborate directly to provide care that best meets individual care needs,” said Alexandra Hilkene, a Health Ministry spokesperson. “Ontario Health Teams will work together to understand a patient’s full healthcare history, directly connect them to the different types of care they need and help patients 24/7 in navigating the healthcare system.”

Even though there were no COVID-19 outbreaks in Chatham-Kent nursing homes, there continues to be issues in the local homes, as well as those in Lambton and Windsor-Essex, Roebuck said.

“There continues to be drastic staff shortages, inability to provide even basic care to residents in nursing homes,” she said.

Tracey Ramsey, the Windsor Health Coalition chair and a former NDP MP, echoed those comments.

“Staff and families report that, if anything, the staffing emergency is much worse than it was prior to COVID-19, when it was already in crisis,” Ramsey said. “We cannot allow home and community care to be privatized, fragmented and left in the hands of a majority of for-profit chain companies with no oversight.”

Roebuck and Ramsey said local publicly run homes usually pay staff more than for-profit ones, but the issue is many personal support workers across the province still don’t receive a living wage, benefits and consistent shifts.

When asked what a return to publicly run long-term care homes would look like, Ramsey said one area to focus on is when private homes have their provincial licences come up for renewal.

“That’s a point in time to consider whether or not they should be renewed and the province then has the ability to take those back into public hands,” she said. “There has to be a political will to do that and we don’t see that in this Bill 175.”

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