TORONTO, July 21, 2016 /CNW/ - The Ontario government recently announced a $100-million cash infusion to home and community care, part of its 2015 promise to give a total of $750 million over three years. But a significant chunk of that money is not going to frontline services, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
"As we've been saying for years, a lot of the funding isn't getting to the front lines where it is desperately needed," said Lucy Morton, Chair of OPSEU's Community Health Care Professionals Division.
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk's annual report for 2015 found that nearly 40 per cent of the $1.5 billion the province spends on home and community care doesn't make it to the front lines. A large part of this money is paying for profit margins and administrative duplication related to the use of private service providers. The Auditor also found that 14 Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) paid their CEOs an average of $250,000 in 2013, a 27 per cent increase from 2009.
"Our main question is, where is this money going to go?" Morton continued. "The Auditor General has pointed out the numerous issues with the current home and community care model, including most notably that for-profit organizations are not obligated to open their books to the government for scrutiny.
"We have no way of knowing exactly how much money makes it to patient care. How can we ensure improved service provision if we can't even answer that question?"
As a result of increased contracting out, home care has seen more low and inconsistent wages among workers, as well as declining quality and availability of care. In a response to the Ministry of Health's 2016 Patients First discussion paper, OPSEU indicated that there is a dire need for increased funding to hospitals and Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINS), who have not seen an increase in funding in more than four years, as well as a need for health care to stay public to ensure transparency and accountability.
"A big part of the problem is this stealth privatization of the health care system," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Good jobs are being destroyed and our aging population is receiving poorer and poorer care."
"We will continue to challenge the government to fix this broken system."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Lucy Morton, 905-317-9464