Letter to the Editor – Bill 175
“Have you heard about Bill 175, the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act 2020? In the midst of a pandemic and the struggle to contain it, the Ontario government is proposing to overhaul the present system of home care.
We are now aware of the horrific conditions that have long existed in the long-term care system. Reports, letters, news articles and television documentaries detailed the abuses running rampant in Ontario’s long-term care “homes” long before the pandemic. But successive governments did not listen.
It appears that the government is about to risk a home-care catastrophe similar to the one in long-term care. The tragedies of long-term care should have taught us to listen to the voices of key advocates, patients’ families, health care professionals and front-line workers. However, the drafting of Bill 175 has not been subject to adequate public input and scrutiny.
Bill 175 will diminish public oversight at a time when it is glaringly apparent that we need that oversight. It will allow for the functions of home care that are public to become privatized. It will open the doors to the expansion of private for-profit hospitals. It will repeal the clauses in the present legislation that protect the public’s interests in home and community care. Why get rid of the Patient Bill of Rights and the complaint process? Surely the horrors in long-term care have made it obvious that a Patient Bill of Rights and an easily navigated complaint process are crucial to any and all health care.
There are serious problems in home care. We need improved and equitable access. We need consistency in the scheduling of home visits and in staffing. We need an end to staff shortages. Bill 175 will not address these concerns. Different providers providing services under different models in various regions will destabilize the work force and waste public money in the duplication of services. We know that a minimum standard of care is necessary in long-term care. It is also necessary in home care. A minimum care standard does not exist in the proposed legislation. And what about regulatory inspections? Haven’t the atrocities in long-term care taught everyone the importance of a stringent governance regime that includes unannounced inspections and an efficient enforcement system?
Vital public interest protections, including the right to access home care, should be legislated. Regulations are not sufficient. They can be changed without public oversight and without input from our elected government representatives.
We need a home care system that provides appropriate care, safety and dignity to both the receivers and providers of home care.
Bill 175 has been rushed through First and Second Reading in the Legislature in ten business days, without time for extensive debate. It could become law soon.
Please contact the premier and your MPP. Ask that they withdraw Bill 175. We are in the midst of a pandemic. We need to reform the home care system but only when the timing is reasonable. And reforming the system should include a democratic consultation process in the public interest.”