CUPE members are also challenging P3 hospitals in Ontario. Members of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions are planning community-based campaigns that oppose private hospital plans in Ottawa and Brampton.
OCHU has demanded that the board of directors of Brampton’s William Osler Hospital lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the proposed private, for-profit hospital. Tendering for the 400-bed private hospital is underway, and foreign corporations are believed to be among the developers bidding – but the secretive process doesn’t allow any public scrutiny or input.
A strongly-worded letter from the law firm representing CUPE calls on board members to live up to their obligation to consider alternatives to privatization, and to consult with the community and the workers before going any further. OCHU also asks the board to make public any studies it has done that show a P3 hospital will save money while still delivering quality care – including comparisons to a public sector alternative, as well as releasing tendering and contract documents.
The letter points to a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which concluded that “private for-profit hospitals were associated with increased risk of death” compared to private not-for-profit hospitals.
A similar letter to the board of the Royal Ottawa Hospital earlier in the year hasn’t yet produced results – but the pressure on both boards is expected to build through the autumn.
Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, there was good news. In meetings with the regional health authority in Fredericton, CUPE has confirmed that a new rehabilitation centre will be owned and operated publicly – not as a P3 as Premier Bernard Lord had indicated might happen.