OTTAWA – Today’s announcement of a privately financed, owned and maintained hospital is bad news for patients, taxpayers and workers in Ontario – and Canada’s largest union has pledged to throw up every possible roadblock to the dangerous scheme.
“This so-called public private partnership is really privatization in disguise. At a conference of privateers earlier this week, Tony Clement looked like the cat that swallowed the canary, and now we know why. This scheme is part of a bigger plan to gobble up all of our public health care,” said CUPE National President Judy Darcy.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is already fighting a similar scheme in British Columbia tooth and nail, and will mobilize with its community partners to take on the Ontario fight.
“Tony Clement and Gordon Campbell are squabbling over who gets to wield the flamethrower as they blaze this dangerous path towards Medicare’s destruction. Make no mistake – letting these private hospitals go ahead threatens the integrity of our public health care system under NAFTA rules. If we don’t act now, the low levels of care and high cost to taxpayers that are the hallmark of these hospitals could soon spread from coast to coast,” added Darcy.
The Ontario and BC government plans parrot a British private hospital initiative that has been a dismal failure. UK private hospitals have been a financial nightmare, providing substandard care while rewarding shareholders with massive profits. Yet at this week’s conference of the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, British representatives were touting privately financed and owned hospitals as a success.
“High quality dietary, laundry, cleaning and other services are essential to proper health care. Contracting these services out will compromise that care. And the privateers are after the full meal deal. Those same British private hospital promoters made it clear that they’re all too eager to get their hands on clinical services as well, to further boost their profits.”
CUPE has a concrete plan to expand and improve public health care, preventing any health care privatization. Yet the federal government continues to sit on the sidelines.
“It’s now a three-alarm fire, with outbreaks in Alberta, BC and Ontario – where’s Allan Rock? We need some serious and decisive action from the federal government to stop these corporations from tap dancing around the Canada Health Act while they strategize on how to trample Medicare altogether.”
CUPE represents a half-million members in health care, education, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, airlines and emergency services, including 180,000 health care workers. A CUPE-led campaign stopped a similar private hospital plan in Prince Edward Island. For background on the problems with private hospitals, visit cupe.ca.
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Robert Fox, CUPE Communications