Nurses Fear for Home Care Clients in Muskoka after Victorian Order of Nurses' Service Contract Inexplicably Not Renewed

HUNTSVILLE, ON, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Home care clients in Muskoka will lose the continuity of care so important to their well-being after 17 home care nurses at Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) in Huntsville were provided with notice of long-term layoffs.

The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has recently been advised that as of September 30, 2012, the contract between the VON for Canada-Ontario Branch North Bay Site - Huntsville Area and the North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) will expire and it will no longer be the home care service provider. Effective October 1, 2012, the contract will be granted to the for-profit organization, Closing the Gap Healthcare Group, which currently does not provide nursing services in the Muskoka area.

"This situation is absolutely abhorrent," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "The VON is a cherished non-profit organization that has been providing quality services to the clients of this community for more than a decade, and not one explanation has been given as to why it will no longer be the service provider. In fact, we have learned the CCAC was in direct negotiations with Closing the Gap and that the VON 'mutually agreed' to the arrangement. We do not understand this at all and are demanding answers."

The 17 registered nurses and registered practical nurses who received layoff notices provide an array of home care services directly in their clients' homes throughout the Muskoka area, including Huntsville, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and as far north as Burk's Falls. The layoffs are equal to removing approximately 34,000 hours of VON nursing care.

"Our VON members know their clients, know their community and have years of experience providing quality client care," Haslam-Stroud adds. "In turn, these clients trust and feel comfortable with their nurses. But this change in service providers will remove that continuity of care, which we know contributes greatly to their overall well-being."

While the trend in health care is to move patients quicker than ever out of hospitals and back into the community, ONA is concerned the appropriate supports just aren't in place - and treating home care nurses like this won't help.

"CCAC case managers cannot keep up with the enormous and increasing demand for community care as it is, explaining why there are more than 10,000 people on Ontario home care wait lists," Haslam-Stroud says. "Nurses who work in this sector have unbearable workloads. Now, these VON nurses face either unemployment or working for a provider that will likely cut wages and benefits. Many may simply choose to leave the nursing profession altogether, exacerbating the situation. These nurses deserve respect for the work they do, which saves taxpayers significant money by providing quality care in clients' homes.

"On a personal note, I find it despicable that my 93-year-old uncle will have to wait six months to be provided with the same two hours of home care in Huntsville that he received in southern Ontario because of a lack of home care providers. What an appalling way to treat our elderly, who deserve so much better at this stage in their lives."

ONA is the union representing 59,000 front-line RNs and allied health professionals and more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario communities, hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, industry and clinics.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Ruth Featherstone   (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267 or
Melanie Levenson   (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369 or


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