SEIU Healthcare Pre-Budget briefing to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs 2013 Ontario Budget, April 5, 2013

Backgrounder

Today representatives of SEIU Healthcare briefed the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs as part of consultations leading up to the 2013 Ontario Budget and provided recommendations designed to increase the efficiency and transparency of the health sector and drive quality and value.

From a system wide perspective, SEIU Healthcare recommended fully utilizing the knowledge and skills of healthcare professionals such as Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in the acute and community sectors to increase both the efficiency and quality of Ontario’s healthcare system. For example, using a RPN to his/her full scope of practice will result in a net savings to the system since an RPN hour costs 30% less than a Registered Nurse hour while providing the same quality of care. Similarly, using trained PSWs in tasks for which they possess the skills and knowledge to practice will result in net savings to the system since a PSW hour costs approximately 30% less than an RPN hour. If implemented, it is estimated that this measure could result in a net savings of over a Billion dollars per year.

Long-Term Care (LTC) is playing an increasingly important role in the province’s healthcare delivery system. The movement of more acute care patients out of hospitals and mental health facilities into LTC homes has created mounting care needs and demographic trends also mean that LTC residents will have progressively more complex and heavier care needs over the coming years. Given this situation, SEIU Healthcare is recommending that the province set standards for minimum hours of care in long term care homes - 3.5 hours of care per person per day to help prevent abuse and neglect, ensure the safety of residents and care workers, and improve the quality of life of residents.

As a critical component of Ontario’s health system, homecare is vital to delivering improved healthcare performance while constraining expenditure growth in the costly acute and long-term care sectors. Recognizing the increasing role that homecare needs to play, SEIU Healthcare outlined a six point homecare action plan, as seen below, that would deliver the promise of homecare.

Homecare: Fulfilling the promise
Action Plan

1. Cut waiting lists for homecare
With more than 10,000 people on waiting lists for homecare, and delays of up to 260 days, families need a new homecare guarantee that care will be there when they need it. 

2. Provide relief to family caregivers
Take some of the pressure off families who are caring for an ailing relative while at the same time trying to juggle a full-time job and raise a family with supports like flexible respite care so that caregivers get a break.

3. Guarantee security and peace of mind
When a family needs homecare they should be guaranteed every health professional coming into their home is trained, qualified and has passed a criminal background check.

4. Insist investments go to the frontline not the bottom line
Put a hard cap on the salaries of healthcare CEOs who have been pocketing millions and close tax loopholes so the wealthiest 1% pay their fair share towards public healthcare.

5. Demand transparency and accountability
Today out of every public dollar invested in homecare, only 35 cents goes to actual frontline care. The public needs full disclosure of where every homecare penny goes, in order to be reassured that homecare services are being delivered efficiently to meet the rising demand.

6. Protect the heart of healthcare
Frontline staff are the heart of healthcare. To attract healthcare professionals required to care for an aging population, we need a plan that offers personal support workers fair and reasonable compensation and incentives like retirement benefits.

SEIU Healthcare supports the Government of Ontario in its efforts to create jobs and improve services for people while eliminating the deficit. We believe SEIU Healthcare’s recommendations must be among the Ontario government’s top priorities for program spending measures. By implementing our recommendations, the Government of Ontario will help ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of government services while wisely managing our investments in the Ontario healthcare sector.

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