Here is an account sent to me by an Ontario nurse of her experience with contracted out support services in her hospital. I've removed the name of the company.
"I just learned that if something is not mentioned in the (company) contract, the company does not have to do it.
"In our hospital, patients transported from outside the community will have a single escort with them. There is a hostel that houses and provides meals for escorts. When we get a sick child usually only one escort comes with them. The escort stays in the room with the child and we would provide the escort with a meal tray.
"Recently (the company) put a stop to it and said they would only supply trays to escorts of children 1 year old or less. The other escorts would have to go to the hostel to either eat or get a meal ticket, everyday. As nurses we could not believe an escort of a 2 year old would be made to leave the hospital to either eat or get a meal ticket and go to the hospital cafeteria. We did not feel this was safe for the child left behind alone. When we took our concerns to our nurse manager, he said (the company) could do that, if it is not in the contract.
"We replied, (the company) works for the hospital and the hospital should make them do it. He made it clear (the company) does not work for the hospital, they are contracted to provide management services, they do not answer to the hospital. He did say it was something that could be looked at when the contract was up for renewal. For us that was not good enough.
"Subsequently, we were able to get meals once again delivered to the escorts, but we had to make it a political issue just to achieve safe, responsible care.
The nurse goes on to note that she is particularly concerned because a "political party running in Ontario in our next election wants to contract out support services."