Irked by a “secretive” government review of how home care contracts are awarded, union workers are taking matters into their own hands by establishing a public hotline.
Ottawa was the first of many stops across the province yesterday where Canadian Union of Public Employee (CUPE) members released a telephone hotline — 1-888-599-0770 — for workers and care recipients to voice their concerns with service under the competitive bidding model.
Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said they will return to Ottawa in a month to review all concerns made to the hotline. “We’re going to put this out in the open,” he said. “The more we do that, the more people will step forward for better home care.”
The union claims that since competitive bidding was introduced 10 years ago, home care recipients lose the agency caring for them every few years, and sometimes their caregivers every six months. As a result of companies competing for bids, Hurley said about a quarter of the money meant for home care goes to transactional costs.
Hurley also said the turnover rate of the workers is 57 per cent because of instability.
Hugh Armstrong, a professor at the School of Social Work at Carleton University, called the hotline a new activity to deal with the old concern about competitive bidding.
“We need better conditions for the workers in order to have better standards of care, and competitive bidding jeopardizes the standards … We get worse care that’s more expensive.”
Home care worker Debbie Chaudhari said “clients and the workers deserve some stability,” she said.
“The clients aren’t getting good quality of care because the workplace is unstable.”