Peterborough health advocates are worried the provincial government’s plan to modernize home care will impact those who depend on the service and potentially leave others at risk.
Bill 175, called the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, would allow new Ontario health teams being put in place by the government to collaborate on the best ways to meet the needs of patients, with combined input from front-line hospital staff, primary care providers, home care and long-term care as needed in each individual case.
“The bill is simply a blank cheque,” said Roy Brady, chair of the Peterborough Health Coalition.
“Big problem for everybody is that there wasn’t any public consultation and yet this government is for the people.”
Primary care is important for everyone at every stage of life, he said, but you don’t worry about it until you need it.
“Primary care and community care you need that every day of your life,” Brady said. “This is what this bill is all about and yet no consultation with the people.”
He doesn’t think the bill offers support for not-for-profit public health care.
“What we have learned in the last little while, they have really come through better than most people thought with the hospitals and paramedics and the nurses, places that you go to for the public so-called free health care,” Brady said.
Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith said the bill will help people in home-care situations to continue living at home and help them stay more independent longer and keep them informed.
“For people who are able to live at home and aren’t ready to go to that long-term care facility, that gives us other options and other abilities to make sure those who can stay home can,” Smith said.
Marion Burton, a labour activist and member of the Peterborough Health Coalition, said she is looking at current conditions and the legislation and is appalled by the lack of improvements.
“We are looking at the current conditions and we were hoping that the current legislation could provide very clear directions for improvements and unfortunately it has absolutely failed to give any reassurances to the people of Ontario,” Burton said.
Brady said this would leave an opening for the private sector to come rushing in and be able to privatize home-care for profits.
“We have learned with long-term care, even with home care to some extent, but with long term care, we have learned that profit is absolute with them.”
Smith rejects the notion that more for-profit, private corporations would slide into the role of care providers.
“They (opponents of the bill) say this opens it up to privatization, explicitly in it, we talk about what cannot be considered to go to privatization,” Smith said.
“We specifically say this cannot happen, so we have actually said no you cannot privatize.”