Last spring we were pleased to be part of the Ontario Health Coalition’s plebiscite campaign asking Kingston residents whether they wanted the new mental health and rehab hospital to remain entirely in public hands.
At the time the province was seeking bids to turn the project into a public-private partnership. More than 9,000 residents came out to vote on a very cold April day, almost all in favour of retaining public control over the facility. Instead the private deal was signed at a cost of $901 million — including long term care maintenance. The original project was estimated to cost $350 million to build.
The OHC recently alerted us that one of those voters — Lydia McPherson — was chosen to publicly “pitch” Premier Wynne on the idea of keeping our hospitals public. The “pitch” is featured on a Liberal party website.
Oddly, rather than understand the point McPherson makes about the additional costs surrounding the privatized plan, Wynne concludes McPherson’s pitch to be about openness and transparency.
Kudos to Lydia for standing up to the Premier, even if it appears she didn’t entirely get it.
To watch the Liberal video, click the link below. Links to some of our previous stories about the Kingston P3 are also below.
John Gerretsen should know better
OPSEU TV Commercial
Kenney Memo Misleading
New Kingston hospital a departure from recent P3s
Video: Kingston is voting in the streets
Kingston votes 96 per cent against hospital privatization
This goes to show — Wynne’s no slouch as a politician. She easily steers the message her way.
There’s no doubt that openness and transparency is going to be one of her major themes should an election be called. We do have to give her credit for opening up much of the MUSH sector finally to the ombudsman, even if health care was carved out and given a separate office. It’s true that secrecy is a big problem with P3s, as Lydia pointed out, as is control, but the cost is a glaring issue especially in a time of deep austerity.
Cost is certainly a big issue; however, lack of transparency at all levels of the system means that most of us cannot challenge the dominant narrative that cost is THE issue. Natalie Mehra and the OHC are to be congratulated for successfully challenging the cost argument in the case of the proposed merger in Scarborough/Ajax. How many more merger decisions are being made for reasons other than efficient use of resources?