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The Romanow Commission is preparing to release its recommendations for public health care but the privateers aren’t waiting. The Alberta government has approved the province’s first for-profit hospital in Calgary, and plans for a P3 hospital in Ottawa continue to lurch ahead.

CUPE is helping build strong community coalitions to meet both challenges. In Alberta, CUPE is working closely with Friends of Medicare to raise awareness and build opposition to the government’s decision allowing the Health Resource Centre to perform surgeries requiring overnight stays. They’re also preparing to counter further privatization as the government implements the corporate-friendly recommendations of the Mazankowski report on health care.

In Ontario, two for-profit hospitals planned in Brampton and Ottawa continue to be shrouded in secrecy. The Ottawa plan took a public step forward recently, as Royal Ottawa Hospital management announced the short list of corporations bidding for the P3 mental health facility. There are some familiar mug shots in the cast of characters, including French multinational Sodexho and P3 firm Borealis.

Sodexho’s reputation precedes the corporation’s foray into Ontario health care privatization. In BC, CUPE’s Hospital Employees’ Union worked with the BC Government Employees’ Union to expose and derail Sodexho’s plan to make privatized health care jobs an HEU-free zone. Since then, HEU has successfully organized workers at several Sodexho-owned facilities.

Borealis partly owned by OMERS, the Ontario municipal pension plan is hijacking public sector workers’ deferred wages to privatize public infrastructure. In the past, Borealis has used CUPE members’ pension funds to support the failed Nova Scotia P3 school experiment. CUPE Ontario continues to wage a strong campaign for joint trusteeship of the pension plan.

CUPE members in Ottawa and Brampton are working closely with the Ontario Health Coalition and other community allies to organize community demonstrations against P3 hospitals on October 19. Meanwhile, there’s news of another P3 hospital threat in Uxbridge, again with OMERS connections.