'This whole thing stinks': PCs slam Liberal plan to deliver home care

The Progressive Conservatives allege the Wynne Liberals are too close to SEIU Healthcare, the union that could potentially benefit from the influx of workers a provincial home care agency would create.

Liberals are too close to the union that could potentially benefit from the plan, PC critics allege

The Liberals plan to introduce a government-run home care agency this fall has come under fire from the Progressive Conservatives, who say the plan would benefit a union with close Liberal ties. (iStock)

The Progressive Conservatives are criticizing the Liberal's plan to quietly introduce a new government agency to deliver home care directly.

This comes after an exclusive CBC story shed light on the agency, which could eventually serve hundreds of thousands of patients in Ontario and make personal support home care workers government employees.

The PCs allege the Wynne Liberals are too close to SEIU Healthcare, the union that could potentially benefit from the influx of workers the plan would create.

Industry insiders have told CBC News it's likely that most of the newly created public employees would join SEIU Healthcare. 

"This whole thing stinks and it just doesn't pass the smell test," PC health critic Jeff Yurek said at a news conference Thursday. 

"The news release where this announcement was buried came within days of a Working Ontario Women attack campaign," the MPP said, referring to a series of ads against PC leader Patrick Brown.

SEIU is the key financial backer of Working Ontario Women.

PC MPP Lisa Thompson also pointed out that a former president of the Liberal Party, Michael Spitale, is now director of government relations for SEIU, information that is publicly available. 

When asked if the PCs' criticism of the home care plan is a response to the attack ads, the party's deputy leader Steve Clarke responded, "I am clearly upset about the relation between an organization with clear Liberal ties and the creation of a secret agency that no one seems to be able to answer questions about."

MPP Jeff Yurek, MPP Lisa Thompson and PC Deputy Leader Steve Clarke slammed the Wynne Liberals home care plan during a news conference at Queen's park Thursday. (Queen's Park)

The agency was first mentioned in passing as part of a bigger announcement in early October by Health Minister Eric Hoskins and was included at the bottom of a news release that was primarily about an increase in publicly-funded home care services.

CBC News obtained a copy of the plan, dated October 2017, which says the agency, called Personal Support Services Ontario, will be created this fall and will start to deliver home care in the spring.

The Liberals have said that the new home-care agency will give clients more choice in selecting a personal support worker, more control over their schedule, and more choice in services.  

Our priority is patients, Liberals say

In a statement responding to the PC news conference, a spokesperson for the minister of health said the move is about putting Ontarians who receive care at home in the driver's seat.

Brochures advertising home care services displayed in a Toronto hospital. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

The full statement issued to CBC News says the model, successfully implemented in other countries, is proven to improve client satisfaction, relationships between client and care provider, and meeting more of the client's needs.

The statement does not address the allegations made by the PCs Thursday.