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Liberals allowing CCAC system to suffer

(October 1, 2015) Recently, the province's Auditor General released a report on Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and it shows the Wynne Liberals need to take immediate action to improve the poor state of the home and community care sector in Ontario.

Frankly, the report's findings are no surprise.

Complaints about the home and community care system are among the most frequent calls that I receive in my constituency offices.

While Ontario is blessed with dedicated nurses, doctors and other frontline caregivers – all of whom work hard to do what's best for their patients – the Liberal government's mismanagement of the home and community care sector is failing our most vulnerable.

In 2011, without any cost-benefit analysis, the Liberals implemented new CCAC programs that resulted in 47 percent of patients not being visited at home within 24 hours following discharge from hospital.

Clearly, this is another example of how this government charges ahead with new programs without giving thoughtful consideration before implementation.

For 12 years now the Liberals have held power and yet there's been no thorough evaluation of the current CCAC service-delivery model to ensure that this model is optimally providing consistent and quality care. Which begs the question, where is the accountability?

Among the Auditor General's interesting findings is the fact that just 61 percent of CCAC dollars go to face-to-face care, while a whopping 39 percent fund administration and bureaucracy.

The Auditor General found that salaries for CCAC chief executives skyrocketed by 27 percent between 2009 and 2013.

The CEO for the Champlain CCAC saw the highest increase for that time, with a 72 percent jump in pay. These types of increases over such a short period are mind-boggling, to say the least.

Meanwhile, patients are told to wait for desperately needed home and community care services, and personal support worker wage increases have been delayed.

It was also determined that CCACs are paying inconsistent rates to service providers for the same services. In some cases, the same service provider is even paid different rates by the same CCAC for the same work.

In terms of eligibility criteria for complex care patients, the Auditor General determined the criteria for complex care patients discharged from hospitals varies between CCACs, meaning a patient might not receive the care they need simply because of where they live. Such situations aren't acceptable.

Care protocols vary among service providers too, the Auditor General found. This means if two people had the same health issue in different parts of the province they might receive different forms of treatment. There are no best practices, like there are in our hospitals. This needs to change.

The report also determined that only four CCACs surveyed patients to determine satisfaction levels in regards to home care visits. You'd think that a far greater number of patients would be consulted.

CCAC reform was part of the PC Caucus 2015 budget request to the government.

The PC Party asked the government to commit to fixing home care by streamlining the system to reduce the number of agencies patients must deal with. We also asked that CCAC funding be tied to outcomes and clearly defined results.

Of course, the Liberals didn't listen.

Still, my colleagues and I will continue push the government to do what's right.

Ontarians deserve a CCAC system that provides them with the best care possible.

Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.

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