ONA Home Care Nurses Deserve Decent Wages, Benefits: Urged Not to Work for New Providers Without Job Security

    TORONTO, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is urging
its 59 St. Joseph's Home Care nurses in Hamilton and Brant and who will lose
their jobs in 2008 to not work for any for-profit home care provider who
successfully wins a local Community Care Access Centre contract.
    St. Joseph's Home Care told its staff that it has been deemed "not
eligible" to participate further in a Request for Proposal to provide home
care services for the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant CCAC. St. Joseph's has
provided home care in the area for more than 80 years - and many of its RNs
have 20 to 30 years of service. Nurses will lose their jobs as the two CCAC
contracts expire - Hamilton's on March 31, 2008 and Brant's on September 30,
    "This situation is absolutely abhorrent," says ONA President Linda
Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Our members know their clients, know their community and
have decades of experience providing quality patient care. The competitive
bidding process is degrading quality patient care, as we warned three years
ago when the government reviewed the RFP process, but here we are again -
laying off nurses even as the province's nursing shortage goes from bad to
worse, and patients pay the price."
    Local Bargaining Unit President Janice Bethune, RN, says the news has
deeply distressed ONA nurses. "Our nurses care deeply about our clients, and
have worked for years to ensure their needs are being met," she says. "We're
now being turned loose, and facing either unemployment or working for a
provider that will want to cut our wages and benefits. We deserve respect for
the work we do, which saves taxpayers money by providing quality patient care
in the client's home."
    ONA has recommended that the practice of competitive bidding be stopped.
Based on experience in the competitive bidding process, ONA found that
competition for home care contracts degraded patient care, and degraded the
work life of nurses. ONA believes that at the very least, only non-profit home
care providers be allowed to submit RFPs, as for-profit organizations do not
necessarily provide quality care outcomes, and they pay nurses on a
fee-for-service basis, discouraging sufficient time for client care.
    "We are pushing for successor rights," says Haslam-Stroud. "As the
government works to keep patients in their homes, quality home care services
will be more in demand than ever. But our members will not accept a for-profit
employer that's more concerned with money in their pockets than investing in
our client's care - there are too many other nursing vacancies for RNs that
provide better wages, working conditions and benefits than are offered by
for-profit providers."

    ONA is the union representing 53,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals working in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public
health, the community and industry.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2430, Cellular: (416) 986-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2369

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