Tag Archives: Don Ford

ONA Strike: Home Care critical to Ontario’s health care strategy – just tell that to the CCACs

Picture of OPSEU President Warren Smokey Thomas with striking ONA CCAC professionals in Kingston on Friday January 30.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas (far right) with striking ONA CCAC professionals in Kingston last Friday.

About 3,000 professional staff at nine of the 14 Ontario Community Care Access Centres started walking a picket line Friday.

Represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, it’s the latest labour disruption in a sector the government considers to be critical to its overall health strategy.

About 140 OPSEU home care workers at ParaMed Home Health Care in Renfrew withheld their services last September after their agency initially failed to negotiate a deal that would lift many of its workers out of poverty. In 2013 SEIU took 4,500 personal support workers at Red Cross Care Partners out on strike over similar conditions. Following that strike the government implemented a well-intentioned but poorly constructed initiative to stabilize the Personal Support Worker (PSW) workforce by increasing funding for their wages over three years. As the government passed on wage increases for these PSWs, some private for-profit home care agencies clawed back compensation for travel time and mileage. In Niagara and Norfolk Counties OPSEU’s nursing staff at CarePartners are likely to strike soon to gain a first contract.

Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has appointed former RNAO President Gail Donner to lead an expert review on the sector. Her recommendations are expected early this year. They can’t come soon enough.

The pressures during this latest strike will be tremendous given Ontario’s underfunded hospitals have little room to maneuver now that the ability to discharge home care patients to the CCAC has become much more limited.

The CCAC boards are looking particularly ridiculous. The Toronto Star reports that ONA was asking for a 1.4 per cent hike for its workers after emerging from a two-year wage freeze. To most people, that seems more than reasonable in the face of the lavish wage increases the CCAC boards have been bestowing on their CEOs.

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CCAC CEOs may not have enjoyed their cornflakes this morning

You would think the Community Care Access Centres would tread a little carefully these days. The Tories want to get rid of them. The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario would like to fold them into the LHINs. We’re creeping into the time of year where budgets run out and home care patients get left in the lurch, particularly around rehabilitation. It’s generally not a fun time for the CCACs.

The CEOs might be enjoying their day a little less this morning after Bob Hepburn’s column in the Toronto Star.  It left our spoons hovering above the Cornflakes.

Hepburn contends that the leadership at the CCACs have been handsomely rewarding themselves with lavish increases while applying restraint to the front line workers. Maybe it’s a last hurrah before it all ends?

Hepburn points to two examples – Cathy Szabo, CEO of the Central CCAC who saw her salary jump by 50 per cent from 2009 to 2012, and Melody Miles, CEO of the Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant CCAC who gave herself a 24 per cent increase over the same period. For Szabo, her wage jumped $91,000 to $270,734. For Miles, her wage jumped during the same period by nearly $53,000 to $265,949.

The information comes from the sunshine list, which we always caution fails to give the full picture, including if the executives worked the full year covered under the report.

We decided to look at the rest of the list. Among CCAC CEOs, you have to really feel for North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC chief William Innes. Back in 2009 he reported earnings of $224,890. For the last two years it has been $199,877.

Central East’s Don Ford is the lowest paid CCAC CEO today. It’s true his kid’s likely didn’t go hungry with earnings of $180,769 in 2012, but the man has not had a raise since the economy took a dump in 2009. In 2009 Ford’s reported earnings on the sunshine list were $181,953. His taxable benefits are also far lower than many of his counterparts at $761.02 in 2012 (by comparison Catherine Szabo received $11,723 in taxable benefits). He’s at the bottom of the provincial heap.

Szabo and Miles draw down some of the biggest incomes among CCAC executives province-wide, but the biggest winner in 2012 was former deputy minister Margaret Mottershead,  who was then the CEO of the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres (and now she’s gone). Some may wonder why a small group of 14 CCACs needs an association, but we’ll leave that alone for now. Mottershead’s reported compensation for 2012 was $318,322, up slightly less than $5,000 from the year before. That would be a 1.5 per cent increase for anybody lacking a calculator.

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LHINs grapple with data to make decisions

What is sufficient data to make effective decisions about the health system? What is the quality of that data?

Two issues came up at Wednesday’s Central East LHIN board meeting to illustrate both questions.

The LHINs across Ontario are balking at a lengthy list of performance indicators from the province they claim are “too many and too detailed.” The CE LHIN says it would need additional staff to keep up with the data stream the province is asking for.

James Meloche, a Senior Director with the CE LHIN, said the list of indicators was not strategic, leading departing board member Ron Francis to suggest the LHIN should be asking the province what they are planning to do with the data generated by these indicators.

Three different bodies are presently generating lists of indicators without any coordination between them. The LHIN says Hospitals are “maxed out” by the requirement for an every increasing stream of data.

For all the data that is presently collected, the veracity of it came into question in an exchange between Meloche and CE LHIN board member Samantha Singh.

Singh had questioned CE Community Care Access Centre CEO Don Ford on the large number of children awaiting speech-language therapy in the LHIN. Ford confirmed that the wait list for speech language therapy was between two and three years.

Meloche chimed in that the LHIN had previously only had 70 people on the wait list for speech language therapy– including both children and adults. After a recent blitz, he said that list was now down to 10.

Singh was incredulous; saying one school she visited had eight children waiting for speech language therapy.

The LHIN board also had a lengthy discussion about delays in getting data. At the April meeting the board was just getting results from the third quarter of last year. Paul Barker, a senior director of the LHIN, said reporting periods were “all over the map.” The third quarter data showed two hospitals in deficit, whereas in fact he said only one – Peterborough – would finish the year in the red.

With delays in getting data, the board is sometimes left making decisions on information that is six months old.