Transcript: Home Care During COVID-19 | Jul 24, 2020

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a gray suit and a checkered blue shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Home care during COVID-19. Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

Jeyan says COVID-19 HAS TURNED LONG-TERM CARE HOMES, SENIORS AND THE ESSENTIAL WORKERS THAT STAFF THOSE FACILITIES EARLY ON AND HARD. LESS WELL KNOWN IS HOW THIS PLAYED OUT FOR THOSE GETTING PROVIDING HOME CARE. MARY BAXTER COVERS THE SOUTHWESTERN PART OF THE PROVINCE FOR ONTARIO HUBS AND HAS BEEN EXPLORING THAT AND JOINS US NOW FROM LONDON.

Mary is in her forties, with shoulder-length wavy brown hair. She's wearing a black blazer.

Jeyan continues WELCOME TO THE SHOW, MARY.

Mary says IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE.

Jeyan says IN YOUR SERIES OF 4 ARTICLES YOU WROTE ABOUT 4 ISSUES AFFECTING HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE DURING COVID-19. LET'S START WITH WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOME CARE WORKERS AND LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS?

The caption changes to "Mary Baxter. Southwestern Ontario Hub Journalist."

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/OntarioHubs. Health. What new legislation means for home and community care in Ontario. By Mary Baxter."

Mary says THAT'S THE INTERESTING THING. THERE IS ACTUALLY NOT A LOT OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORKERS. THEY ARE DOING A LOT OF THE SAME KINDS OF ACTIVITIES. IT'S THE SETTING IN WHICH THEY ARE WORKING. SO LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS WORK IN FACILITIES THAT ARE INTENDED FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED 24 HOUR CARE AND THEY ARE QUITE ILL. THE HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE WORKERS WILL COME TO, FOR INSTANCE, VISIT PEOPLE IN THEIR HOMES BUT THERE IS OFTEN CASES WHERE THEY ARE WORKING IN OTHER TYPES OF GROUP FACILITIES. SO, FOR INSTANCE, A GROUP HOME FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

Jeyan says MARY, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF FOCUS ON LONG-TERM CARE HOMES BUT DO WE KNOW HOW MANY HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE WORKERS HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY COVID-19?

Mary says THE SHORT ANSWER, NO. WE HAVE HEARD THROUGH THE MEDIA A COUPLE OF REPORTS OF HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE WORKERS WHO HAVE DIED FROM THE VIRUS. BUT, THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH DOESN'T SEPARATE OUT THE NUMBERS OF FRONT LINE WORKERS WHO WORK IN THE HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE SECTOR FROM ALL OF THE OTHER WORKERS. AND THEY ALSO DON'T KNOW OF ANY HEALTH UNITS ACROSS THE PROVINCE WHO DO THAT.

Jeyan says NOW, IN YOUR SERIES YOU SPOKE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE RECEIVING HOME CARE. DO THEY TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT THEIR CONCERNS WITH HOME CARE WORKERS COMING IN AND OUT OF THEIR HOMES?

Mary says THEY HAVE BEEN WORRIED, OBVIOUSLY, OVER THE PANDEMIC. THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CONCERN OVER THINGS LIKE LACK OF PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT INITIALLY. AND ALSO WHAT HAS HAPPENED IS THAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHERE THESE WORKERS HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE. IN SOME CASES IF THEY ARE CONTRACT WORKERS, INITIALLY THEY MAY HAVE BEEN WORKING BOTH IN LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES AND FOR HOME CARE. OR THEY MAY HAVE CONTINUED WORKING IN GROUP HOME FACILITIES AND IN HOME CARE. SO THERE IS A LOT OF WORRY ABOUT WHERE THESE WORKERS HAVE BEEN, HOW WELL EDUCATED HAVE THEY BEEN IN PROTECTING THEMSELVES AS WELL?

Jeyan says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT BILL 175. IT WAS EXACTLY A MONTH AGO TODAY THAT HEALTH CARE WORKERS WERE PROTESTING BILL 175. IT HAS SINCE BECOME LAW. HOW DOES THE NEW HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE ACT AFFECT CURRENT OPERATIONS?

The caption changes to "Mary Baxter, @MaryBWord."

Mary says THE NEW ACT IT WAS ESSENTIALLY ENVISIONED AS A HOUSEKEEPING THING. BECAUSE WITH THE ADVENT OF THE ONTARIO HEALTH TEAMS TAKING OVER A LOT OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY HELD BY LOCAL HEALTH INTEGRATION NETWORKS AND ADMINISTERING HEALTH CARE LOCALLY, THEY NEEDED SOME SORT OF AUTHORITY TO BE ABLE TO ALSO MANAGE HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE. AND THAT'S WHAT THIS ACT DOES. BUT, WHERE THE CONCERN COMES IN IS THAT THE ONTARIO HEALTH TEAMS WHICH ARE MADE UP OF DIFFERENT GROUPS, SO FOR INSTANCE, HOSPITALS AND FAMILY DOCTORS AND LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS THAT MIGHT DELIVER HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE AND SUPPORTS, SO THEY ARE ALL TOGETHER. BUT THE ACT DOES IS IT ALLOWS THAT TEAM TO DELEGATE THAT RESPONSIBILITY SO IT COULD BE TO A MEMBER OF THEIR TEAM OR IT COULD BE TO A PRIVATE SERVICE. SO ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE ORGANIZING WHO IS GETTING WHAT KIND OF CARE. THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR THAT TO BE PRIVATELY MANAGED AND THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF THE CONCERNS COME IN.

Jeyan says I AM CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT THE PROVINCE IS SAYING. YOU MENTIONED PRIVATIZATION THERE. WHAT HAVE THEY HAD TO SAY ABOUT IT?

Mary says THEY HAVE SAID IT'S ACTUALLY NOT GOING TO OPEN THE DOOR TO ANY MORE PRIVATIZATION.

Jeyan says AND I KNOW THERE WERE SOME OTHER CONCERNS WITHIN THE ACT REGARDING LANGUAGE, PARTICULARLY AROUND THE WORD "PATIENT." YOU TALK ABOUT THAT IN YOUR ARTICLE. DO YOU MIND DELVING INTO THAT.

Mary says YES. THIS HAS BEEN ANOTHER CONCERN ESPECIALLY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, IS THAT THE LANGUAGE THAT'S USED IN THE ACT DOESN'T SEE THEM ANY DIFFERENTLY FROM OTHER PEOPLE THAT ARE RECEIVING HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE SERVICES, AND THAT'S AN ISSUE BECAUSE TO REALLY QUESTIONS AND CHALLENGES THE IDEA OF INDEPENDENT LIVING WHERE PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY WELL, THEY ARE NOT ILL. AND SO THERE IS A CONCERN THAT THEY ARE BEING LOOKED AT AND TREATED AS IF THEY ARE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE YET THEY ARE A DISTINCT POPULATION AS THERE ARE OTHER DISTINCT POPULATIONS WITHIN THAT NOMENCLATURE.

Jeyan says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT PAY, PANDEMIC PAY. THE PROVINCE INTRODUCED PANDEMIC PAY TO ENSURE FRONT-LINE WORKERS WERE SUPPORTED. YOU TALKED ABOUT THE CONDITIONS THAT HOME CARE WORKERS ARE IN. HAVE THEY BEEN RECEIVING THEIR COVID-19 PAY HIKE?

Mary says THAT PAY, FIRST OFF IS RETROACTIVE, BUT SOME PLACES HAVE STARTED TO RECEIVE THAT PAY. SO FOR INSTANCE, FRONT LINE WORKERS IN HOSPITALS WHO QUALIFY FOR THE PAY, HAVE BEGUN TO RECEIVE THAT PAY. BUT IT'S BEING ROLLED OUT IN STAGES AND IN DIFFERENT AREAS SO SOME MAY HAVE STARTED TO RECEIVE IT IN HOME CARE AND OTHERS MAY NOT HAVE STARTED TO RECEIVE IT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Jeyan says THANK YOU, MARY, SO MUCH FOR YOUR REPORTING. OF COURSE A STORY WE WILL CONTINUE TO COVER DURING THIS PANDEMIC. THAT'S MARY BAXTER, OUR ONTARIO HUB JOURNALIST COVERING SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO. THANK YOU AGAIN.

Mary says THANKS, JEYAN.

Watch: Home Care During COVID-19