Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.
OTTAWA The nations capital is one step closer to a for-profit hospital, and Canadas largest union is demanding action to stop private care before it becomes a national disaster.

Today the Royal Ottawa Hospital announced the short list of corporate groups vying to own, operate and maintain a new mental health centre. While there’s no question the Royal Ottawa needs new facilities, the Canadian Union of Public Employees says privatization is absolutely not the solution.

“Turning to the corporate world for a ‘partnership’ in health care is a worse mistake than letting Enron get its hands on electricity,” says CUPE National President Judy Darcy. “It’s a rotten solution. Privatization doesn’t make financial sense. And, far worse, privatized care doesn’t just hurt taxpayers. Studies now show privatization kills. It’s time Anne McLellan got serious about stopping the spread of this deadly problem.”

A May 2002 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found patients in private, for-profit hospitals have a higher risk of dying – even though they are likely to have less complicated health problems.

“This latest move brings us one dangerous step closer to a health care system where a rich few get top-of-the line care, and everyone else just takes their chances. We’ve challenged the privateers to show us that for-profit services will benefit anyone besides their shareholders, and they’ve failed to deliver,” says Michael Hurley, President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. “We’re calling on the federal government to intervene immediately. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option.”

The Royal Ottawa facility is one of two Ontario public private partnership (P3) hospitals, the other is planned in Brampton. Both schemes are shrouded in secrecy, with no public scrutiny of the plans – and without a shred of evidence the P3s will save money and deliver improved services. A similar P3 hospital plan has hit numerous hurdles in British Columbia. There, CUPE’s Hospital Employees’ Union has revealed the government has based its plans on the flimsiest of studies, using numbers that just don’t add up.

The Ontario and BC plans mimic a British private hospital initiative that has been a dismal failure. British private hospitals cost more than public facilities while providing substandard care – including a 30 per cent reduction in beds.

“There’s international evidence P3s don’t work for health care – or any other public service. There are also international concerns that under trade deals like NAFTA and GATS, schemes like this won’t just nibble away at the edges of Medicare, they’ll destroy it,” says Darcy.

“The privateers are about to run headlong into a wall,” says Hurley. “There’s a movement building across this province. Community by community, city by town, people are discovering the facts behind the P3 smoke and mirrors. That opposition is growing by the day – and we intend to bring the full pressure of public opinion to bear on the federal and provincial governments.”

CUPE will contact federal health minister Anne McLellan requesting a meeting to discuss this urgent situation.

CUPE represents a half-million women and men providing front-line public services in health care, education, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, airlines and emergency services, including 180,000 health care workers.

A CUPE-led campaign in Prince Edward Island stopped a similar private hospital plan in 1999. For background on the problems with private hospitals, and CUPE’s plan for public health care, visit cupe.ca. For background on the BC campaign against private hospitals, visit heu.org.

– 30 –

For more information, contact:

Karin Jordan, CUPE Communications (613) 222-4436 (cell.)

Robert Fox, CUPE Communications (613) 795-4977 (cell.)