Province turns home care services into for-profit bonanza resulting in job losses, low wages, poverty

    HAMILTON, ON, Dec. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The Ontario government has once
again handed private companies a bonanza to reap profits in the delivery of
home care services at the expense of workers, says the Canadian Union of
Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. It has done so by lifting a three-year
moratorium on competitive bidding for the provision of home care services, a
move that CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan says has already had a disastrous
effect on Hamilton workers, some of whom will lose their jobs while others
will toil at unacceptably low wages.
    "Something is very wrong when long-time, community non-profit providers
such as St. Joseph's Health Care Centre and the Victorian Order of Nurses
(VON) are disqualified by the regional Community Care Access Centre (CCAC)
after years of dedicated service," says Ryan. "Typically, for-profit providers
are able to bid lower because they pay poor wages, do not reimburse their
workers for work expenses, and provide no benefits or pensions to these front
line staff."
    Twenty-seven CUPE members at St. Joseph's Health Care Centre, as well
another hundred workers who provide in-home nursing care in Hamilton, will
lose their jobs next April when their CCAC contracts run out.
    Ryan says that the introduction of competitive bidding in the home care
sector created a low-paying ghetto for workers, many of whom are women from
racialized communities. When a number of community non-profit agencies lost
contracts, some home care workers with these agencies had no choice but to
take jobs at much lower wages with the for-profit companies that won the
    "Why would the Minister of Health lift the moratorium on competitive
bidding just as the Ontario government is embarking on a poverty reduction
strategy?" adds Ryan. "It's like we are going back to square one. From the new
Brampton hospital to municipal public-private projects to competitive bidding
in home care, this government is charging ahead on privatizing many services
that can be delivered more efficiently and effectively by the public and
non-profit community sectors."
    Ryan has vowed to hold the McGuinty government to account for the
creeping privatization of services in the province. "It just does not make
sense to send taxpayers' dollars to Bay Street profiteers when those profits
could instead be used in the front line care of clients who need home care or
health care services," he says.

For further information:

For further information: Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647)
225-3685; Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, (416) 209-0066

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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