Wednesday, January 23, 2008

VON, St. Joe's get reprieve

Kudos to George Smitherman, the Ontario Health Minister, for blocking the local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) plan to effectively wipe out St. Joseph's Healthcare and the local branch of the Victoria Order of Nurses (VON). Two agencies that between them do 80% of the outpatient and home visit business in the city. The local CCAC office just happens to be around the corner from where I live here in Hamilton.

Home care services for the elderly and disabled are contracted out to the private sector, and the bids were coming up this year. In a bizarre move that was never fully explained, the CCAC has said the two groups which have been providing services here in Hamilton for decades didn't even meet the bid requirements and would have to wind up their services by March 31. "Technically deficient" to use the expression, rather cynically.

One can only imagine the outrage ... and it was huge here from both the left and the right. It was also utter hypocrisy on the part of a government agency. "Stranger danger," we've been told ever since before kindergarten, and now the most vulnerable who've relied on the same care agent for months, even years, would now have to a face a new care worker --probably a government hack -- not due to attrition or misconduct but because of a sacrifice to the altar of the almighty dollar.

So for now, these two fine groups are in business to stay and the CCAC has to start from square one. While saving taxpayer's money should be a priority, it's value for money that should also be considered. Best practices mean results, and one can't sacrifice compassionate care for profit.

Smitherman may be pissing off agencies that were due to get the new contracts, but as he said last night he recognizes that it's the residents of this province that are his bosses. He's not the boss of them. How refreshing to hear that in a Parliamentary democracy.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.

No comments: