The provincial government is rushing through legislation (Bill 175) that will dramatically change the oversight and management of home care in Ontario.
There is no reason that warrants moving forward with this legislation when we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill 175 will effectively move all the decision making about home care into regulations that can be changed by Cabinet without ever going back to the Legislature for scrutiny.
This bill will dismantle public governance and provision of home care services and turn it over to a number of different private companies to contract and subcontract services to the community. More than 700,000 people in the province depend on home care to some degree in order to remain at home and function as best as possible.
Many will say that health-care costs are rising, and we have to find efficiencies and try to save money. This is true, but Bill 175 does nothing to improve the major problems in home care, including poor and inequitable access, missed visits and staffing shortages.
Others will say that we have to start somewhere; but let’s not start with more chaos. We will end up with a number of different providers doing things their own way with no co-ordination of services provided to the needy, frail, and vulnerable trying to live at home.
Premier Ford has publicly stated that he will fix the problems occurring in long-term care homes. LTC homes are one part of the health-care system. The government must look at the whole continuum of health care from hospital, to home, to LTC and integrate the movement and services so there is a seamless co-ordination from one to the other.
The government has not consulted with the public or home care health providers about Bill 175, but is moving ahead and ignoring the concerns of many groups and doing so in an un-democratic fashion.
COVID-19 has laid bare many of the weaknesses in LTC, as well as home and community care. Let’s learn from this tragic experience to improve health care, not make it worse.Terry Martyn