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Talk of for-profit home-care worries Nova Scotia Nurses Union

by Robert Devet

Janet Hazelton (far right), president of the NS Nurses Union, during on of the many fall rallies at the legislature. Hazelton worries that introducing for-profits into home-care will cause uncertainty for nurses and reduce quality of care. photo Robert Devet
Janet Hazelton (far right), president of the NS Nurses Union, during on of the many fall rallies at the legislature. Hazelton worries that introducing for-profits into home-care will cause uncertainty for nurses and reduce quality of care. photo Robert Devet

(K'JIPUKTUK), HALIFAX - The Liberal government is considering opening up more home-care services to for-profit companies as part of its strategy to cut costs.

“We are moving to what will be a competitive model to provide home-care, which we think will bring better results,” Health Minister Leo Glavine told NDP MLA Lenore Zann during the November 6th question period.

But what exactly the Minister has in mind is not clear.

“It’s too early to discuss, as no firm decisions have yet been made,” departmental spokesperson Tony Kiritsis writes in an email to the Halifax Media Co-op.

One of the service providers that could well be affected is the Victoria Order of Nurses (VON).

Registered and licensed practical nurses associated with the not-for-profit organization go to people's homes to provide medical or nursing treatments, rehabilitation therapy and much more.

In some areas VON also provides non-nursing home-care support services.

Janet Hazelton, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, represents the nurses who work for the VON.

Hazelton believes that making the VON compete for contracts is a bad idea, especially at a time when the province is dealing with growing waiting lists for home-care.

“Government talks about this all the time,” says Hazelton. “They say that maybe we should put this out for an RFP and be competitive.”

“But my worry is that it removes stability for the workers,” she says. “VON nurses are saying that they can't go through this every two or three years, wondering if the VON is going to win the contract or not.”

Opening up home-care for for-profit companies is a bad idea for other reasons as well, Hazelton tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“I don't know of a (for-profit) company that would have 1000 nurses available if the government were to put out a Request for Proposals tomorrow,” she says. “Especially if it is for-profit. They will likely not have pension plans, medical, or be able to pay the same rate...”

And the quality of care will likely suffer as well if for-profits are brought in, Hazelton believes.

“VON isn't making money. If they hire a company that wants to make money than something has to give, they have to cut something,” Hazelton says.

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 


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Topics: LabourHealth
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