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Wednesday protests: Health coalition says proposed home care changes could 'destabilize' system

Ontario Health Coalition rallies take place in downtown and New Sudbury at noon Wednesday
long-term care nursing home elderly stock

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), a group that lobbies for full publicly funded health care, has organized a province-wide day of protest for this Wednesday, June 24 which includes noon-hour rallies in downtown Sudbury and New Sudbury. 

The concern by OHC is that the Ontario government is trying to fast track Bill-175, a new community care act.

The new bill --Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, 2020 -- was introduced in February by Health Minister Chrstine Elliott. 

At that time she said the new act "would build a modern and nimble system to deliver home and community care services, bringing this outdated system designed in the early 1990s into the 21st century."

Elliott told the legislature that Bill 175 would provide better patient care, and integrate care with funding from the newly created Ontario Health agency. She said it would streamline the way homecare services are provided.

"Patients will receive the home and community care services they need as quickly and conveniently as possible, without having to tell their personal story over and over again, because our proposal will transition home care out of administrative silos and into Ontario health teams in a measured and responsible manner," said Elliott.  The act is still before the legislature and has not yet become law. 

OHC disagrees with the new approach, saying it will destabilize the current home care system at the wrong time since we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Another concern, according to an OHC policy statement issued last week, is that the bill will dismantle the public governance for the home care system with not enough accountability.The OHC is also concerned with the fact that Health Ontario will be overseeing the program and is taking over funding from the LHINs. 

OHC says the Health Ontario management board will be made up mainly of private citizens who are not accountable to the public. Another matter of concern is that the Ontario cabinet will have the right to make administrative changes to the act, without getting approval from the legislature, thus making it undemocratic.

In line with that concern is OHC's contention that not enough consultation was held with key groups and clients before changes were proposed.

The OHC also suggested the new bill will allow for real-person home care visits to be replaced by virtual electronic check-ins, if appropriate. The OHC said this would be denying real home care in some cases.

In a presentation to Queen's Park on June 15, OHC listed several changes and proposed amendments to the bill, with the overall recommendation that the bill should be withdrawn.  There is no indication Ontario's Progressive Conservatives will agree to the changes.

The health minister's position is that the changes are necessary and worthwhile.

"If this proposed legislation should pass, patient care would be better co-ordinated because health care providers would be empowered to work together with a full picture of the patient’s needs, while still operating under strong oversight and accountability. This is personalized, integrated care in action," said Elliott. 

Participants for the OHC rally are invited to wear a face mask and bring a sign. 

Wednesday's events in Sudbury includes the 12 p.m. rally at 40 Elm St., the LHIN office at the Rainbow Centre. The second event is the parking lot in front of the offices of Sudbury MPP Jamie West at the corner of Barrydowne Road and Gemmell Street. Participants are invited to drive around in the parking lot with signs on their cars protesting Bill 175.


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Len Gillis, local journalism initiative reporter

About the Author: Len Gillis, local journalism initiative reporter

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at covering health care in northeastern Ontario and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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