Lib­er­als won’t pri­va­tize health care

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Dwight Ball Leader of the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion

Paul Davis is mov­ing for­ward with the pri­va­ti­za­tion of long-term care, al­low­ing pri­vate com­pa­nies con­trol over the lo­ca­tion of the long-term care cen­tres, the cost of care and the level of care pro­vided.

He has rushed this process, mak­ing a 30-year com­mit­ment very late in the man­date of a tired PC gov­ern­ment.

They are so fo­cused on push­ing this through, they didn’t stop to ex­plore all the op­tions avail­able to pro­vide the best, most ef­fi­cient care for se­niors in our province, in­clud­ing how to help them stay in their homes longer (this is pre­ferred by se­niors, and the most ef­fi­cient op­tion for care).

Deputy Premier Steve Kent re­cently said they are not sure of the ex­act cost to pri­va­tize long-term care but, re­gard­less, they are con­fi­dent there will be sav­ings.

Clearly the ques­tion here is, if they are so con­fi­dent in those sav­ings, why not pub­licly share the ev­i­dence?

Hid­ing this ev­i­dence and ex­pect­ing peo­ple to sim­ply trust their judg­ment demon­strates their poor man­age­ment and ar­ro­gance.

Lib­er­als will not pri­va­tize longterm care, or any health care, for that mat­ter.

Re­cently we com­mit­ted to take ac­tion on one of the most im­por­tant is­sues fac­ing our province to­day — men­tal health.

We com­mit­ted that with the sup­port of the peo­ple of the province, as a new Lib­eral gov­ern­ment we will build a re­place­ment for the Water­ford Hos­pi­tal, a fa­cil­ity that dates back to 1855.

Build­ing a mod­ern fa­cil­ity to pro­vide bet­ter care, treat­ment and sup­port to those strug­gling with men­tal health in our province is not a niceto-have, it’s a must-have. And it’s long over­due.

We are com­mit­ted to do­ing this in a re­spon­si­ble, open and trans­par­ent way.

This means look­ing at all avail­able op­tions, en­gag­ing the public in that process, de­ter­min­ing the best ve­hi­cle through which we build the fa­cil­ity, and sched­ul­ing that work to take ad­van­tage of low in­ter­est rates and the avail­able lo­cal skilled work­force com­ing off large projects in 2017.

Our plan is to build the re­place­ment for the Water­ford Hos­pi­tal in the most ef­fec­tive way pos­si­ble.

We will use the op­tion that al­lows us to do that, whether it’s through tra­di­tion­ally fi­nanced con­struc­tion or through a ne­go­ti­ated ar­range­ment with New­found­land and Labrador com­pa­nies.

The most ef­fec­tive ap­proach will be de­ter­mined through a value for money anal­y­sis — an in­fra­struc­ture plan­ning tool used world­wide.

And in the end, the tra­di­tion­ally-fi­nanced con­struc­tion op­tion may very well bring the best value and would there­fore be the ap­proach we take.

But be­fore we pro­ceed, we be­lieve it’s pru­dent to con­sider all op­tions. This in­cludes al­ter­na­tives such as per­for­mance-based in­fra­struc­ture — an op­tion that al­lows for public own­er­ship, costs that are known up front, and en­sures taxpayers are not fi­nan­cially on the hook for any over­runs, de­lays or per­for­mance is­sues over the build­ing’s life.

Which­ever con­struc­tion tool is se­lected, the de­liv­ery of the healthcare ser­vices in the new men­tal health fa­cil­ity will be pub­licly de­liv­ered.

For Lib­er­als, this is about due dili­gence, shar­ing in­for­ma­tion with the public, mov­ing for­ward with a pro­ject that is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary, and get­ting it right.

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