Protesters rally against home care bill ahead of third reading
KITCHENER -- A group of protesters rallied on Thursday afternoon against a new provincial home care bill.
The demonstrators in Kitchener said Bill 175 could privatize home care delivery in Ontario.
The bill has passed two readings and is scheduled for a third in the near future.
The Waterloo Region Health Coalition hosted the rally near Sportsworld Drive and King Street near Amy Fee’s office, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener South-Hespeler. Organizer Jim Stewart said the Local Health Integration Network currently provides all case management and coordination for helping people with home care. He added the system makes sure the organization can monitor private chains and make sure they're operating with public interest in mind.
If the bill goes forward, Stewart said that role would transition to private corporations.
"These private chains, these conglomerates, they don't even have to tell us how they're delivering home care," he said. "There's no oversight whatsoever and that's, to us, the primary concern. It's all around case management, case coordination, the placement of people into home care, the coordination of that home care and the review of how that home care is being delivered."
Donna Evans, who worked in the nursing profession for 43 years, said care homes are an important part of the health care system.
"To be a socially responsible community, we need to look after our most vulnerable, and we are not," she said.
Stewart said he's worried about what the bill could mean for the future of home care.
"There will be no oversight on how home care is being delivered, despite the fact that we are paying through our public taxes for home care," he said.
In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Health said the legislation "in no way enables the privatization of home care."
"The Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act will allow Ontario Health Teams to deliver more innovative models of home and community care," the statement read in part. "Patients will benefit from primary care, hospitals, home and community care and long-term care providers being able to collaborate directly to provide care that best meets individual care needs."
The statement also said home care providers are "prohibited from charging for professional, personal support services and homemaking services." The ministry said there will be "no immediate changes" to existing contracts for both profit and not-for-profit homes.
The demonstrators also said they're concerned about Bill 161, which they said could limit the ability of Ontario residents to bring class-action lawsuits against corporations like for-profit care homes.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Attorney General said Bill 161 will "address issues that clog the system and slow down justice for everyone."
"The proposed changes would not preclude individuals from seeking redress from other remedial avenues, but rather, these changes would ensure that a class action is the most appropriate procedure to obtain that redress," the statement said in part.
The Ontario Nurses' Association said its members are also concerned about the two bills.
"Both have the potential to harm healthcare for Ontarians," the association said in an emailed statement to CTV News Kitchener.