SUDBURY, Ont. Residents in northern Ontario communities like North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie should be wary about how their money may be used in the innovative funding model the province is proposing to finance new hospitals in those cities, said the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) at a media conference in Sudbury today.
Last summer the Ontario Liberals opened the door to major private sector involvement and a variety of unfamiliar and untraditional financing models including pooled borrowing, leasing, and bond issue loans in the provinces infrastructure renewal program for hospitals, water plants and schools. So, far the province has said little publicly about these financing alternatives and how they will impact public hospitals.
Secrecy, complicated money borrowing arrangements, the lack of transparency, and the loss of public control are often the criticism levelled at private infrastructure deals like Highway 407, and the P3 hospitals now being built in Brampton and Ottawa.
Just like P3 hospital deals, everything in these new funding models is cloaked in secrecy. Because the government has not been forthcoming with information about how the new financing models will unfold, there is a widespread concern that they are private hospital deals in disguise.
Innovative financing may be doublespeak for just another private deal and a way for the provincial government to deflect criticism for not investing in public hospital renewal, said Michael Hurley the president of CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
The funding model that could be employed in the North Bay construction could privatize the hospital for thirty years. The OHC is meeting with community leaders to ensure the government funds this hospital and keeps it public.
We are deeply concerned that the government is secretly arranging financing deals that will privatize our hospitals for the next generation. We need to ensure that they build the hospital right that means keep it public and drop the secrecy, said the OHCs Natalie Mehra.
For more information contact:
Michael Hurley, President (OCHU/CUPE) (416) 884-0770
Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition (416) 230-6402
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774