Hamilton-based home care advocacy group asks province for $460M to ‘fix wages’

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Published January 26, 2022 at 11:58 am

Home Care Ontario, which has a head office in Hamilton, is requesting $460 million from the provincial government.

Home Care Ontario, which has its head office in Hamilton, is requesting $460 million from the provincial government. The group says the funds are needed “to fix wage inequalities that have worsened a pre-existing staffing crisis in the sector during the pandemic.”

Advocates say home care staff are paid less than their equivalents in other parts of the system to perform similar work. Personal support workers, for example, are paid at least $5 per hour more to work in long-term care homes and hospitals.

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Home Care Ontario says home care has stopped for thousands of Ontarians altogether due to a staffing crisis, which has also impacted hospitals, long-term care homes, and ambulances.

“We’re being deluged with calls and we do not have the staff to respond,” said Sue VanderBent, Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Ontario, whose members employ approximately 28,000 health care staff province-wide. “There are no longer enough nurses and personal support workers in the system to provide people with the help they need at home.”

The group says home care services were already under pressure in the province but have been exacerbated by an exodus of staff. They say home care has lost an estimated 4,000 nurses since the beginning of the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, home care providers fulfilled requests for nursing care 95 per cent of the time, according to Home Care Ontario. As of Dec. 31, 2021, they say that number has dropped to 56 per cent.

“The shortages we’re talking about can have life-altering consequences for families,” said VanderBent. “These patients are more than just a number. They are brothers, sisters, parents. We simply must do more to help them.”

“Government needs to do everything in its power now to ensure the province is not in a similar situation during future waves of the pandemic. That begins with prioritizing home care funding to help stabilize this essential pillar of our health care system,” she concluded.

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