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Council of Canadians opposes “competitive bidding” for home care services in Nova Scotia

The Council of Canadians is opposed to “competitive bidding” for home care and support services in Nova Scotia.

Leo GlavineIn an opinion piece published in the Chronicle Herald, Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Angela Giles and allies note, “Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine recently announced plans to seriously consider opening home care and support services to competitive bidding. This would allow private, for-profit corporations to bid on contracts currently provided by government and not-for-profit agencies. This competitive bidding process will award home-care contracts based on the lowest bid, not on who will provide the best quality of care. To date, Mr. Glavine has refused to hold consultations or allow for public input.”

They warn that when Ontario opened its home care system to competitive bidding in the 1990s, “Private transnational corporations came in and underbid charities and non-profit providers with deep roots in communities. After winning contracts, they reduced home visits to 30- or 60-minute ‘products’, and added to the number of clients whom workers see. …The drive for profit does not end with limiting services and care. Private companies in Ontario are [also] known to ‘upsell’ care to patients, pushing them to buy unnecessary features and services with extra out-of-pocket payments.”

And they add, “We are deeply concerned by this move. The wait list for home care in Nova Scotia has been rapidly expanding. Over a six-month period in 2014, the wait list increased by 80 per cent, from 422 to 760 patients needing care. With the oldest population in the country, and some of the highest rates of chronic illness, this trend is sure to continue.”

The Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network is calling on the Liberal government of Premier Stephen McNeil to “reverse moves to privatize home care, and to instead maintain a publicly funded, not-for profit system, which should provide home-care services at little or no cost to patients and their families.”

To advance this demand, they are organizing a series of town hall meetings across Nova Scotia, including in Sydney (April 21), Amherst (April 30) and Halifax (May 4).

For more on the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network, please click here.

Photo: Nova Scotia’s Health and Wellness minister Leo Glavine is considering opening home care and support services to competitive bidding.