No benefit to seniors in government “expropriation” of home support staff: BCCPA

Decision announced after zero consultation with sector


BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) on Wednesday expressed their deep disappointment on a Ministry of Health decision to allow contracts to lapse, expropriate staff from non-government home support providers and move them in-house under the control of the government-run health authorities.

“What we’ve heard from seniors is that they want more services and longer visit times, and today’s B.C. government decision does nothing to address this,” said BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine. “Seniors are seeking extra help with their daily needs, such as getting a cup of tea, doing their laundry, or help with medications.

“These changes only serve to drive up the cost of the support, and complicate the staffing shortage crisis the sector is facing without addressing the needs of B.C. seniors. Furthermore, many of our members tell us that their staff do not want to work for government.”

The majority of home support services in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser and Island Health regions have been provided by non-government providers — some of which have been doing this work for three decades or more. A 2016 satisfaction survey conducted by the Ministry of Health indicated extremely high customer satisfaction levels around 93%.

“This decision to bring them back into government-run operations is fraught with risks, and makes no practical sense from the standpoint of seniors,” said Fontaine. “We are asking ourselves what is the government’s next move? Will the next move be to take over publicly-funded long-term care or even child care services?”

Wednesday’s announcement by Health Minister Adrian Dix comes after zero consultation with the sector. Additionally, by requiring them to sign gag orders, providers were barred from speaking with BCCPA before the announcement.

“This decision does not appear to be evidence-based, and apparently involved no consultation at all with seniors. So, we can only surmise that the biggest winners today are the BC NDP’s donors, who have long fought for ending the involvement of non-government agencies being involved in care,” added Fontaine.

“What’s doubly shocking is that the BC Ombudsperson has been calling for a full assessment of B.C.’s home support program since 2012, and that work is yet to be done seven years later. That such a review would not be completed before a decision of this magnitude was made, despite the recommendation of the Ombudsperson, should be a concern to our seniors and their family members,” said Fontaine.

BC Care Providers Association is calling for putting this change on hold, and are asking both the government and BC Green Party caucus to commit to a thorough consultation with the home support sector before any final decisions are made.