Question Period Highlight – Will VON have to compete for home care support contracts?

November 18, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question NDP Health Critic Dave Wilson asked Leo Glavine about concerns over for-profit homecare.

DAVID WILSON: Last week we discovered an 80 per cent increase in the number of people waiting to receive home care in Nova Scotia in the last six months. In order to fix this, the minister says he wants to allow for for-profit companies to deliver home care to Nova Scotians. The minister says he can save several million dollars by doing this. However, the president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union is warning this cost-cutting measure could end up hurting the quality of care Nova Scotians receive. So my question to the minister is, how will he ensure his for-profit home care delivery model won’t result in worse health care for Nova Scotians?

LEO GLAVINE: What I want to convey to the member opposite and all members of the House is that we are very, very pleased with the quality of VON nursing care in Nova Scotia. We know that it’s home support that, in fact, needs a number of improvements over the next couple of years to meet what is a tremendous demand, and in order to be able to give that kind of care to our seniors, we know that we have to become much more efficient in delivery while making sure quality remains high.

DAVE WILSON: News that the Victorian Order of Nurses or VON may have to compete for home care support contracts in areas of the province where wait-lists are already ballooning is concerning, Mr. Speaker. The president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union says that the home care wait-list is growing because we don’t have enough staff. We don’t need to introduce more insecurity to the VON. My question to the minister is this – why is the minister choosing to cause uncertainty for home care support workers, instead of finding ways to keep and attract them where they are needed most? 

LEO GLAVINE: I’m pleased that the member opposite has made that distinction, that it is home support that we obviously need to take a look at. We have a range of costs across the province that can be anywhere from $15 to $20 an hour. We know that we have to utilize, maximize, and get full value for every dollar invested in home care and that will be the one guarantee to get the list down over the next number of years.