Tag Archives: P3s

Today’s big demonstration at Queen’s Park

Picture of an OPSEU flag at a rally.

Wouldn’t it be great to tell your grandchildren you played a role in protecting Canada’s Medicare system? Come to today’s rally at Noon and stand up for public health care.

Today will likely be the biggest Ontario Health Coalition demonstration at Queen’s Park since 2008.

Across Ontario seniors groups, union activists and family members frustrated with their own access to care will be boarding more than 40 buses, some in the pre-dawn darkness on an abnormally cold November morning.

The coalition has spent weeks organizing the day’s event to convince the Wynne government that privatizing more hospital services is not the road to good quality care or sustainable long term costs.

When: Friday, November 21 / 12 Noon
Where: Queen’s Park and University Avenue

Last spring the government was set to begin competitions for hospital services. Theoretically these competitions were to be between not-for-profit private clinics and the public hospitals, although the reality is there are very few not-for-profit clinics in the province. You might say most people were thinking of the not-for-profit edict with a wink.

Hospitals complained that it made it difficult for them to plan when their services would be left up to the caprice of the market.

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Jim – it’s you who loves P3s, not us

The Honourable Jim Flaherty
Minister of Finance
House of Commons Centre Block Building – Room 435-S
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Jim  –

We get it. You love public-private partnerships, or as most like to call ‘em, P3s. The sound of big business rushing in and signing great big multi-million and multi-billion dollar contracts with governments to privately finance, build, maintain and sometimes operate hospitals, court houses, schools, bridges, transit systems – why it just makes your ol’ leprechaun heart sing.

Y’er getting all that “dead” corporate money moving, right?

We know these days that investors are nervous of even their own shadow, so governments need to give them sure-fire money makers at the public’s expense. It’ll buck ‘em up.

Paying it all back, well yeah, those are details best left for another day. What the heck – our children use this infrastructure too, so why shouldn’t they be prepared to pay for it over a generation or two? And if they can’t, there are always their children to pay after them. And their children’s children. Hold on, we’re getting a bit dizzy here.

With the over-inflated costs of these projects, we can hear the big profits clinking from here, even with our windows closed. And at the union we have good windows.

Here comes our beef:

On Tuesday you told a panel that the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre P3 was “incredibly successful” and that the “unions love it, the nurses love it, the physicians love it, the patients love it.”

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Privatization: The “big bad mistake” Ontario is intent on repeating

“The stealth privatization of Ontario’s gas plants over the past decade set the stage for the inevitable payouts that we now face for decades to come.” – Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star columnist, October 9, 2013

Has Kathleen Wynne really learned her lesson? With last week’s report raising the cost of the cancelled gas plants to $1.1 billion, you’d think it would give the government pause over similar privatization deals. That, after all, is the essence of why the cancelled gas plants cost so much. Ground had not even been broken on the Oakville site, the contracted company unable to secure construction permits from the municipality.

Ontario’s Premier called the cancellation a “big, bad mistake,” but much of the cost of these cancelled deals lies in the privatized structure the government chose to develop public infrastructure.

Only a week earlier the same government, supposedly humbled by this deal, announced that a different private consortium had been chosen the winner to build a new 30-year public-private partnership hospital in Kingston.

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Short Takes: Hillier’s remarkable labour conversion, the battle of the inequality authors and more

It is somewhat astonishing to see PC Randy Hillier vote against a Tory private member’s bill that would free construction giant EllisDon from a 55-year-old obligation to hire only unionized labour. This is the same Randy Hillier who, as the opposition labour critic, drafted a White Paper that advocates opening the door to any individual bargaining unit worker to opt out from paying union dues, taking advantage of the collective agreement without actually contributing to the cost of negotiating it. Recently an Indiana judge overruled such a local State law recognizing that it was unconstitutional to force an entity to provide service without compensation. Before losing his critic portfolio, Hillier complained that the Tories were introducing the bill in the hopes of enhancing party donations from the Liberal-friendly construction giant. EllisDon makes considerable financial contributions to the Tories but even bigger ones to the Liberals. Hillier wrote in an e-mail: “Our opposition will cite this example at every opportunity to demonstrate that we are only fighting unions to make big business richer.” Does he not think the rest of the PC labour platform already reflects that reality? While Hillier may appear to be supporting labour today by voting against the EllisDon bill, keep in mind that such action also brings embarrassment to PC leader Tim Hudak who may be the real reason Hillier has chosen to become a dissident on this issue. TVOntario host Steve Paiken recently blogged that such disloyal behaviour is a case of “what comes around goes around.” Paiken noted Hudak’s own disloyalty to former leader John Tory at a time when the former Rogers executive was seeking a safe by-election seat after losing his chosen constituency in a general election to Kathleen Wynne. According to Paiken, Hudak was said to be quietly urging his fellow MPPs not to give up their seat to allow Tory into the legislature. Now several of Hudak’s MPPs are encouraging a new leadership vote, the PCs having only won one of seven byelections since 2011. One of the MPPs encouraging such a review is Randy Hillier. We don’t know who left the comment on Paiken’s BLOG, but one reader duly noted that Hudak is the proverbial dog that don’t hunt. We’re not sure about the rest of the provincial PCs and their policies either.

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Bad week for private companies mining for profits in health care

This hasn’t been a good week for private companies mining big profits in Canada’s health system.

Quebec police are probing a hospital private-public partnership deal awarded to SNC Lavalin Group Inc according to the Globe and Mail.

Police raids took place at the McGill University Health Centre headquarters on Tuesday in what the Globe suggests will “threaten to tarnish one of Canada’s landmark private sector bids to build public infrastructure.”

The newspaper reports that up until recently, the project had been “overseen” by Riadh Ben Aissa, the former head of SNC’s construction division. Ben Aissa is presently in a Swiss jail in regard to allegations of corrupt payments to public officials in Africa.

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Ornge: What the auditor couldn’t find out

Yesterday’s special report by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario tells us much about the web of for-profit companies established by Ornge and the failure of oversight by the Minister of Health and Long Term Care.

What’s not in the report is likely of even more interest and raises questions about the relationship with other for-profit providers in the health system.

The McGuinty government subscribes heavily to the concept of steering not rowing, but clearly with Ornge there was no steering and the rowing left much to be desired.

The auditor notes: “having an arm’s-length corporation deliver air ambulance services was … consistent with the Ministry’s long-term objective of moving away from direct service delivery, with health care services being provided by external entities accountable to the Ministry.”

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