KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is calling on Ontario’s Minister of Health to take immediate action to maintain the role of Care Coordinators, including those in Kawartha Lakes and ensure that quality home and community care remains public
“Care Coordinators and ONA are deeply alarmed by the proposed regulations for Bill 175, the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “We are asking Christine Elliott to take immediate action to change the regulations that threaten publicly delivered home and community care – and the future of the dedicated Care Coordinators who ensure people receive the appropriate home and community care they need and deserve. Currently, the regulations leave the door wide open to privatized care coordination,” she says. “This would be extremely detrimental to those who rely on the vital work our Care Coordinators do each and every day.”
The letter was developed by and signed on to by a supermajority – 81 per cent, or more than 400 – of the 517 highly skilled, experienced Care Coordinators at the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). They are strongly committed to ensuring that the people of Durham Region, Haliburton County and City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County, Peterborough City and County and Scarborough – more than 11.5 per cent of the province’s population – receive the care they need and deserve. While restricted from speaking publicly because of legislative provisions, they have asked their union president to do so according to officials.
The open letter to the Minister of Health urges government to enact changes in the regulation that ensure the role of care coordination continues to be provided by these highly skilled and knowledgeable nurses and health-care professionals, not transferred to private-sector companies.
“This legislation and regulations, which have yet to be finalized, threaten to leave those who need these services vulnerable to fragmented care,” notes McKenna. The regulations are notably vague on whether the role of Care Coordinators will remain in the public health-care sector and on who will provide for the coordination of care needs in the community. As government develops final regulations, ONA and Care Coordinators believe it is more important than ever that the public and government hear directly about what is at stake. Care Coordinators come from a variety of backgrounds that includes nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work and other disciplines. They play an essential role during the COVID-19 pandemic by addressing hospital overcrowding and ensuring that Ontarians can remain at home. Care Coordinators also have the vital role of assessing patients who require placement in long-term care facilities.
“If the work of our coordinators is moved to privatized, for-profit companies there will be a clear conflict of interest,” says McKenna. “Ontarians need to speak out against privatizing more of Ontario’s health-care system now, to ensure the quality of care is there when they need it.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.