KINGSTON – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is supporting the Kingston community plebiscite campaign by sponsoring a new television commercial to air over the next two weeks on CKWS-TV.
Produced with the Kingston Health Coalition, the commercial urges community members to vote April 13 on whether or not they want the proposed new psychiatric/rehab hospital to remain fully public.
Ontario is using the controversial public-private partnership model to replace the aging St. Mary’s Of The Lake and Providence Care hospitals. That means the hospital will be designed, built, financed and maintained for 30 years by a private for-profit consortium.
“At a time when the government is telling us they have no money we can’t understand why the Wynne government would want to proceed with a far more expensive method of replacing these hospitals,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the 130,000 member OPSEU.
When the Auditor General of Ontario looked at Brampton’s William Osler Health Centre privatization in 2008, he concluded that the higher rate of interest paid by the private sector added about $200 million to the cost of the project. He also noted that $28 million in transaction costs were added as a result of using the P3 method. Both of these issues would be factors in the decision to build the new Kingston hospital.
OPSEU has also done the only study of its kind in Canada looking at the impact of P3s on the day-to-day functioning of a public hospital. Examining the Royal Ottawa Health Centre a year after it opened as a P3, the OPSEU reports noted additional costs to clinical budgets and frustration among workers who have little control over their physical environment.
To view the commercial:
The formal recommendations around addressing the challenges of mental health always seem to get it right. So why is it that we never get beyond the nice words from politicians who claim to understand?
This Friday mental health professionals and support staff at Providence Care Mental Health Services – the former Kingston Psychiatric Hospital – will be taking their case public. The staff will be holding an information picket outside their hospital to let Kingston residents know of the volatile situation they face on a daily basis.
Overcrowding, program cuts, and understaffing – mental health services in this province weren’t supposed to be like this.
For all the talk of making things better, decisions still appear to be based on austerity-driven budgets, not on improving care for patients.
A provincial all-party select committee on mental health had unanimously agreed in 2010 that we need to do better so that all Ontarians get the mental health and addictions care they deserve. That includes regional assessments on the availability of a complete basket of mental health services, including acute inpatient treatment.
The all-party committee particularly noted that presenters had told them admission and discharge decisions were becoming motivated not by clinical need, but by the shortage of available beds.
Economist David MacDonald and Ontario Health Coalition director Natalie Mehra will be among panelists speaking at a public meeting in Kingston October 26 on the privatization of proposed replacement for St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital and the Providence Care Mental Health Services (formerly the Kingston Psychiatric Hospital).
The redevelopment of the hospitals is forecast to cost $350 million as a public-private partnership (P3) – a sum the town hall organizers say could be as much as $100 million more than had it been developed under a more traditional public procurement model.
To date the government has refused to release any of the background documents justifying the decision.
Three consortiums were shortlisted for the redevelopment at the end of August. Among them is a consortium involving the same facilities management company that presently runs the Royal Ottawa hospital in Ottawa (see link below for OPSEU’s Risky Business report on the Royal Ottawa P3).