Kingston’s Providence Care took the extraordinary step of sending a memo to staff on Tuesday stating that the proposed new psychiatric and rehab hospital will remain public.
The new hospital is presently going through a competition to select a private for-profit consortium to design, build, finance and maintain the new 270-bed hospital for 30 years.
“You may get the wrong impression from the P3 (Private Public Partnership) slogans being used,” CEO Dale Kenney writes. “Partnership is defined as ownership in a business and I can assure you that Providence Care is not entering into partnership with the private sector to build our hospital.”
Kenney insists that the project is instead being built under Ontario’s Alternative Finance and Procurement model (AFP).
Kenney is likely trying to rescue the beleaguered MPP John Gerretsen, who sees the new hospital as his legacy project. The fact that the private sector has been invited into a pricey long-term relationship with the hospital is sticking in the craw of many unhappy Kingston residents and members of City Council.
If last night’s packed organizing meeting at the new pro-public campaign headquarters of the Kingston Health Coalition is any indication, there is high community interest in this decision. Volunteers are coming to the campaign with considerable motivation.
This idea that somehow an AFP is different from a P3 is complete nonsense. Nobody believes this – not even the promoters of such projects. The Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships lists the new St. Mary’s/Providence hospital as a P3. Yet we don’t see Kenney or an Infrastructure Ontario trying to correct that very public record.