TORONTO – The Ontario Auditor General has found that for-profit hospital support services at Brampton’s Civic Hospital, a so-called “public private partnership” (P3), cost many millions more than publicly delivered services, such as dietary, housekeeping and other non-clinical services.
“The McGuinty government must end its support for for-profit companies to build and operate new hospitals,” says Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), a council of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “Nobody but the private consortia wins in a P3 boondoggle.”
The finding about support services is contained in the Ontario Auditor General’s 2008 annual report, which also found that the cost to build the Brampton hospital increased the total costs by at least $194 million extra (in 2003 dollars). This does not include another $107 million in higher P3 financing costs.
Many non-clinical services were privatized in the Brampton P3, including laundry, housekeeping, portering, patient and non-patient food services, materials management, security, plant operations, and maintenance. The AG’s report indicated that the cost for the hospital to supply non-clinical services was overstated by the Hospital in its value for money comparison by $245 million (in 2003 dollars).
As a result, public sector non-clinical costs would have been $58 million less (in 2003 dollars) than the P3 privatized provision of non-clinical services. In addition, for unexplained reasons, the hospital estimated public sector non-clinical costs higher than the average of ten other benchmark hospitals. If the average was applied, public sector costs would have been a further $42 million less.
“The Auditor General’s finding validates what critics of P3s have said for years,” Hurley says. “Contracting out publicly delivered hospital services to for-profit companies hikes up costs and lowers quality. Staff turnover, lower training standards and the need to maintain profit margins make commercialized support services a bad idea for patients and for communities.”
“After they came to power, the Liberals claimed they had changed the Brampton P3 deal started by the Mike Harris government, but now the AG has shown that the government’s minor changes have fallen far short,” Hurley says. “The fact is, P3s just aren’t in the public interest – they’re not in theory, and they’re not in the real world. This government must drop all P3 projects, now.”
Michael Hurley, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE, cell: 416.884.0770
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431