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Central Vancouver Island residents are joining CUPE’s call for an end to public-private partnerships in seniors’ care in a campaign that’s resulted in a significant policy change in the provincial capital.

More than fifty seniors, health care workers, affordable housing activists and students attended a June 22 public meeting organized by CUPE’s Hospital Employees’ Union to oppose plans for a P3 seniors’ care facility in Nanaimo. Under a two-year old provincial government policy, all new seniors’ care facilities must be privately developed and operated and Nanaimo had been targeted as one of the first sites for a P3 facility. But in an eleventh hour development, Health minister Penny Priddy has announced that the province will broaden its guidelines to include not-for-profit alternatives in seniors’ care.

“We’re optimistic that this policy change means that a non-profit multi-level care facility is a real possibility here in the Nanaimo area,” HEU President Fred Muzin told the meeting. “Perhaps the health board can now develop a seniors’ care facility that’s integrated with other health services and housing.

“We need to promote non-profit alternatives rather than P3s that limit our ability to care for seniors in new and creative ways while maintaining public accountability.”

Opposition to the P3 policy also emerged at the governing NDP’s annual convention held June 18-20 where delegates adopted a resolution calling for the rejection of the costly and dangerous option of public-private partnerships and the consequent loss of public control over public services.

HEU says that the government’s P3 policy would undermine the non-profit character of long-term care provision turning seniors’ care into a cash cow for private corporations.