Health authorities violate key legislation by making decisions behind closed doors, claims union
The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) today launched a new legal action to derail the Campbell government’s sweeping plans to close hospitals, cut services and privatize large parts of the health care system that were unveiled in late April.
In a petition filed today in B.C. Supreme Court, the union claims that government and its health authorities violated the law by secretly approving sweeping restructuring plans at closed door, in-camera meetings earlier this year. The union alleges this is a violation of the Health Authorities Act and a breach of natural justice.
And HEU is seeking a Supreme Court order to quash the so-called redesign plans and reverse any subsequent hospital closures, service cuts and privatizations that have taken place.
“We’re taking this unprecedented action because we’re dealing with a provincial government that totally disregards the rule of law,” says union spokesperson Chris Allnutt. Hopeful for a court date before the end of June, Allnutt says the legal action will be a shot in the arm for communities across B.C. that are fighting the Campbell Liberal’s radical health care cuts and closures.
The Health Authorities Act, section 8(3), clearly stipulates that health authorities board meetings are open to the public. And, says Allnutt, prior to last year’s sweeping consolidation of health regions into six new mega authorities, B.C.’s health care decision-making bodies held open meetings around approving budgets and service delivery plans which the public could attend and participate in.
“Openness, accountability and transparency have been cast aside, as the government and health authorities make decisions behind a thick veil of secrecy that keeps the public - and the media - completely in the dark,” says Allnutt.
Meanwhile the union is also seeking a court declaration that Victoria exceeded its authority when it set up the Provincial Health Services Authority, which is responsible for Children and Women’s Hospital and other specialized health facilities. Unlike the other five, PHSA was not created by government regulation. It’s a quasi-private body registered under the Society Act.
Stephen Howard, HEU communications director,