By Zaid Noorsumar
Premier Doug Ford and his PC government are moving ahead with their new home and community care legislation. According to the Ontario Health Coalition, the legislation will further enable privatization of home care and remove the existing provisions of public control and accountability.
The legislation was being pushed through the Ontario legislature before the government’s attention was diverted by the pandemic.
Now that Ford is determined to “re-open the economy,” the government is moving ahead with its home care agenda. It has allocated three days of public hearings for Bill 175, Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act 2020, from June 15 to 17.
“This legislation has been created in the backrooms without any public consultation,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “It is being railroaded through at break-neck speed before the vast majority of the more than 750,000 people impacted even know that it is happening.”
Private interests and profit margins
The Ontario Health Coalition says that the new legislation will dismantle all remaining public governance and control of home care.
Home care is currently coordinated by 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province, which outsource the delivery of care to agencies – most of which are for-profit and notorious for exploitative practices.
Bill 175 will hand over the coordination to newly-formed Ontario Health Teams, which are loose coalitions of for-profit and not-for-profit agencies set to replace the LHINs. The Health Teams will be overseen by Ontario Health, a “super agency” that functions with no accountability or oversight.
“This is poor policy that benefits private interests seeking to increase their market share or their profit margins but it does not serve the public interest,” Mehra said.
“The Super Agency (Ontario Health) is governed by a Board that is not subject to the Ontario public service legislation regarding conflict of interest and includes an array of pro-privatization business people, bankers and corporate executives, has no regulations for public input, open board meetings, public access to information and even less democratic protections than the LHINs,” reads the Health Coalition’s analysis of Bill 175.
Ontario Health’s Board of Directors includes Shelly Jamieson, who was previously the executive director of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, the lobby group that mainly represents for-profit nursing homes.
Ontario Health Coalition’s Bill 175 Briefing Note
How the hunt for profits has shaped Ontario’s home care sector (rabble.ca)
Power, profit and politics in Ontario’s home care sector (rabble.ca)
Pandemic pay doesn’t cut it for home care workers (Rankandfile.ca)