Ontario begins dissolving its 14 community care access centres next week, but critics insist the move won't cut red tape, free up money or improve home care for patients.
Every year more than 700,000 people in Ontario count on the personal support workers, nurses and therapists who are funded by CCACs.
But the CCACs have been the subject of damning audits, and last December the government passed its Patients First Act, which handed the responsibility of home care to the local health integration networks in each region.
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The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care claims the merger will streamline administration of the health care system and lead to better home care.
'No revolution in home care here'
But home care advocates aren't convinced.
"The same struggles that have existed today will exist tomorrow," said Heather Duff, who helps coordinate care for clients at the Champlain region's CCAC and is chair of CUPE Ontario's health care workers sector.
"There is no revolution in home care here," agreed Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.
Mehra doesn't think the initial eight per cent savings target went far enough, and thinks the move to LHINs won't even achieve that.
The Ministry says 59 upper management jobs will be eliminated across Ontario as a result of the switch, saving about $10.7 million a year, to be reinvested in patient care.
Mehra said the home care apparatus set up under former premier Mike Harris is simply being transferred "wholesale" to LHINs. She would have liked to see a truly public system, instead of continuing to contract private sector agencies to provide care.
"There are so many middlemen, so much profit-taking ... and none of that is going to change," said Mehra.
Done by June 21
In the Ottawa area, the Champlain LHIN and the Champlain CCAC both declined to comment on their upcoming merger, which takes place May 24.
The mergers will take place across the province starting May 3 and wrapping up June 21.
- May 3 - North Simcoe Muskoka.
- May 10 - Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant.
- May 17 - Waterloo Wellington.
- May 17 - South East (Prince Edward County, Kingston, Bancroft, east to Prescott).
- May 24 - South West.
- May 24 - Champlain (Ottawa, Deep River, east to Quebec border).
- May 31 - Mississauga Halton.
- May 31 - Central West (Brampton, Caledon, Orangeville).
- May 31 - North East (Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins).
- June 7 - Toronto Central.
- June 7 - Central (Newmarket, Markham, Vaughan, north to Lake Simcoe).
- June 21 - Erie St. Clair.
- June 21 - North West.
- June 21 - Central East (Peterborough, Scarborough, Haliburton).