Court asked to review Ontario decision to form personal support worker agency - InfoNews

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Court asked to review Ontario decision to form personal support worker agency

February 27, 2018 - 5:42 PM

TORONTO - A coalition of Ontario's home-care providers is asking a court to review a government decision to create a central body for delivering personal support care, saying the province did not consult industry members on the move.

The Home First Alliance for Patients, consisting of 11 home-care providers, has filed an application for judicial review of the government decision announced last fall.

It argues the new agency, which has not been fully launched, would ultimately harm patients as it would introduce uncertainty into the system and could compromise quality of care.

The application argues the move violates the providers' collective right to procedural fairness and seeks to have a judge quash the government decision.

The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care declined to comment on the application, saying the matter was before the court.

The alliance, comprised of high-profile providers including the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada and Saint Elizabeth Health Care, takes aim at then health minister Eric Hoskins, who stepped down Monday to take a job with the federal government.

The application for judicial review said Hoskins "acted recklessly and in breach of his obligations of procedural fairness" by taking steps to establish the agency without seeking input from care providers.

"The decision to introduce an untested home care delivery model, centred on an agency with no track record, without consulting key stakeholders in the home care sector jeopardizes Ontario home care patients and will have effects that reverberate across the health care system," the application reads.

Details of the announcement have been scant since the government first alluded to the creation of a new agency in October 2017.

At that time, a health ministry announcement outlining a number of nursing and home care measures included a one-sentence reference to "the establishment of a new personal support services organization in early 2018."

A presentation made to industry members, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, offers more details, referring to the agency as Self-Directed Personal Support Services Ontario and spelling out its various roles.

Those include recruiting and employing personal support workers, as well as matching them with clients and scheduling their visits.

The presentation indicated the agency was to start working with three of Ontario's 14 Local Health integration Networks this year as a pilot project before being rolled out province-wide by March 2021.

A document posted to the website of the Public Appointments Secretariat of Ontario indicates an agency called Self-Directed Personal Support Services Ontario was established in August 2017.

The alliance's judicial review application contends no members were consulted before the agency was announced. It argued the lack of consultations will result in the government taking on a business it does not understand.

"The decision puts home care patients at risk by introducing uncertainty into the home care system and disrupting continuity of care," the application reads.

"Home care patients, including those who would be served by the agency under the ministry's plan, are amongst the most vulnerable individuals in Ontario, and the government's unilateral decision to create the agency will cause distress, confusion and anxiety."

The application goes on to assert that while Ontario home-care providers were left in the dark, a U.S.-based health-care workers union was closely involved in the development of the government plan.

The Service Employees International Union, according to the application, favours a central employer model for personal support workers and began lobbying the Ontario government more than a year before the new agency was created.

The application alleges Hoskins gave a speech at a 2016 union convention in which he indicated he was seeking a "common employer for care providers" in Ontario" with advice from the SEIU.

Interim Progressive Conservative leader Vic Fedeli castigated the governing Liberals for their alleged involvement with SEIU and called for the release of details on meetings between the union and Liberal officials.

"This is a cynical, self-interested government," Fedeli said Tuesday. "(Premier) Kathleen Wynne tried to hide the announcement of this major new home care agency at the bottom of a press release one day last fall because it makes no sense. "

The SEIU didn't respond to request for comment.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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