Privatization by any other name
When you put health care up for sale, the buyers will always be for-profit companies
In my meetings with the Health Minister Leo Glavine and various other MLAs, it has become clear to me that the Liberals plan to plan to privatize home care.
Recently, Premier Stephen McNeil and other Liberal MLAs have tried to assure voters that this is not the case. They might not intend to privatize home care, but that’s exactly what will happen if they go ahead with a ‘competitive bidding’ model.
It doesn’t matter what you call it, whether it’s ‘competitive bidding,’ ‘tendering services,’ or a ‘request for proposal’ – the result will mean contracting out home care and home nursing to private, for-profit companies. When that happens, patients will receive less care at a greater cost.
Last December, Glavine announced plans to contract out home care and home nursing services. The government has hired a consultant to examine a ‘competitive bidding’ model, which would force home care providers to bid on the contracts. The government would then award the contracts according to the lowest bidder, among several other factors.
This move will privatize home care and home nursing services in Nova Scotia. It will allow for for-profit corporations to enter Nova Scotia and push out community-based charities. That is exactly what happened in Ontario, which is now plagued with chronic health worker shortages and high turnover rates. Home care delivery has become so expensive that there is now a cap on the number of patients who can receive it. In fact, the situation has become so dire in Ontario that the government has suspended the competitive bidding model twice.
Nova Scotians are right to be concerned when the government proposes this flawed model here. I am very disappointed to hear the premier dismiss the concerns as “fear-mongering by unions.” I would suggest that his government should take more time to listen to those who depend on and work in the health-care system.
To date, the Liberal government has refused to hold any public consultations on the proposed changes to home care. Several Liberal MLAs, including Pam Eyking in Victoria-the Lakes, have refused to meet with constituents to talk about it.
Instead, the small non-profit organization I represent, the Nova Scotia Health Network, has held seven town halls meetings around the province to raise awareness. We organized a provincewide day of action, and it is only thanks to thousands of concerned citizens speaking out around the province that competitive bidding is currently on hold.
The plan to privatize home care though is still on the table. According to an internal memo from the Department of Health and Wellness on May 28, “Home care services may still need to be tendered for some, or all, regions in the province.”
The Liberals seem to be content to refer to the process while ignoring the end result. But let’s be clear, the result of their pro- posed changes will be privatization. When you put health care up for sale, the buyers will always be for-profit companies. Tendering and contracting out inevitably means privatizing.
Until the premier and Liberal MLAs fully and publicly reject competitive bidding for home care, patients, family members and home-care workers are at risk.
If the Liberals want voters to trust their words, then they must follow through with actions.
Please write to your local MLA and call on them to reject privatize in any name. Sign the petition online at www.votepublichealthcare.ca and help protect care and caregivers.