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In the face of a long list of unanswered community questions and mounting evidence of the dangers and high cost of P3s, the William Osler Health Centre and the Ontario Tories are pushing ahead with a for-profit hospital.

Late on May 12, the hospital announced it had chosen the Healthcare Infrastructure Company of Canada to finance, build, own and maintain a new campus of the hospital. The corporation is a consortium made up of Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc., Carillion Canada Inc. and the EllisDon construction firm.

The hospital still has to negotiate a deal with the consortium and obtain cabinet approval. The campaign to stop this deal will now go into high gear. Many key details of the P3 project remain shrouded in secrecy.

Borealis is using workers money including the deferred wages of CUPE members to finance privatization. The infrastructure corporation is 26 per cent owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, with another 26 per cent held by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. CUPE has vehemently opposed OMERS/Borealis being involved in any P3s, including the failed Nova Scotia P3 school project.

British infrastructure corporation Carillion is deeply involved in the UK Private Finance Initiative (PFI), the British equivalent of P3s. According to its web site, the corporation is involved in everything from healthcare to supermarkets. PFI contracts are the bulk of Carillions business. British PFI hospitals have brought with them drastic cuts in beds and staff, as well as higher costs and serious design problems that affect quality of care. Carillion has a Canadian office.

The announcement came on the eve of the Brampton screening of a new video exposing the problems with British P3 hospitals. CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and the Ontario Health Coalition are showing the video in dozens of communities across the province, highlighting the dangers of the P3 scheme.

The push flies in the face of an in-depth study by a former official with the federal auditor general. The study concludes P3 hospitals in Ontario will likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars more than publicly owned hospitals. It also raises serious questions about the impact these added financial obligations will have on the quality of care and access to other needed medical services.

Provincial Tories, very visible at early announcements of P3 health plans, are now trying to duck the bad publicity, and are nowhere to be seen. With public opposition mounting, the Tories may be trying to sign as many P3 deals as possible before the election, to make them more difficult to stop. OCHU plans to keep the provincial Tories accountable for their role in facilitating for-profit facilities throughout the provincial election which may be called this spring. The Liberals continue to dodge the issue, saying they oppose P3s but refusing to commit to tear up any signed deals if elected.

The three corporations are also in the running for a P3 mental health facility at the Royal Ottawa Hospital.