This past week Extendicare announced they had entered into an agreement to acquire Revera Home Health, sending a shock wave through the home care sector. This positions ParaMed, the home care arm of Extendicare, to be the largest provider of home care services in the country.
While executives and shareholders celebrate, others decry the deal, suggesting it will have a negative impact on the quality of care. Although I would tend to agree, it surprises me that the hidden story of the decision by Revera in December to drastically cut the travel and mileage benefits for their non-union home care employees has largely been ignored!
At the time Revera characterized these cuts as a means to make themselves more competitive by mitigating some financial difficulties and aligning themselves with the rates provided by competitors. Looking at it retrospectively, however the correlation between the cuts and the sale seems irrefutable and leaves me with no choice but to conclude that the cuts were designed simply to make Revera more profitable at the expense of the workers so they could sell.
Yet again selfless home care workers find themselves the unwilling martyrs of corporate greed. What a shame.
This situation underscores the uncertainty and instability the system is creating for homecare workers and is a reminder that the only real stability comes from having a union. Right now hundreds of RNs, RPNs & PSWs from Revera Home Health are working with us to do exactly that and I encourage others to do the same no matter where you work!
At the end of the day unions are truly the last line of defence of our healthcare system which is increasingly vulnerable to the instability of these uncertain times. In my view the wellbeing of caregivers and clients will be forever intertwined. That is to say when the conditions of work are good so are the conditions of care and vice versa.
Whether unionized or not all healthcare workers are faced with a choice whether to stand idly and watch standards crumble or stand up to demand what the people who work and depend on our healthcare system deserve.
I choose the latter. What about you?