We are concerned that Ernst & Young will recommend cost-saving measures like contracting out that will hurt health care delivery to Nova Scotians. Once a public service is gone, it is difficult if not impossible to get back.” - Joan Jessome, NSGEU President.
Halifax (3 Oct. 2011) - Unions representing over 26,500 health care workers at all the District Health Authorities (DHA's) in Nova Scotia are sharing their concerns about a review of health care services at the DHA's and the IWK Health Centre by consultants Ernst and Young.
On Sept. 30, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union (NSNU) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) joined together to issue a call for the continued support and protection of publicly delivered health care. They also used the opportunity to issue a warning to the public about the threat to quality health care services if recommendations are implemented to contract out or privatize services in the name of cost-cutting.
“We have no problem with finding efficiencies,” says Joan Jessome, President (NSGEU/NUPGE). “We think the DHAs and the IWK could work with health care unions to consider where improvements and cost-savings can be achieved. We are concerned that Ernst & Young will recommend cost-saving measures like contracting out that will hurt health care delivery to Nova Scotians. Once a public service is gone, it is difficult if not impossible to get back.”
The unions are also concerned that Ernst and Young has a strong bias in favour of promoting P3s (public-private partnerships) rather than public ownership. Further, unions have a problem with the approach to health care that puts cost-cutting ahead of quality service delivery. Public service should be the number one priority.
Ernst & Young have been awarded the contract to review the delivery of administrative and support services. The scope of their review includes considering the outsourcing or contracting out of the service. They have been directed to look at 13 different areas of health care services including health records, registration and booking, laundry, payroll, central sterilization, food services, human resources, IT and telecommunications, library services, general administration, finance, supply chain/materiel management, registration and booking. They must narrow it down to six and develop a business plan and implementation schedule.
The NSGEU/NUPGE represents approximately 12,000 health care workers in the nine DHA's and the IWK including health care providers, maintenance and engineering staff and administrative professionals. The NSNU represents 6,500 nurses working in the nine DHA's and the IWK. CUPE represents approximately 4,000 hospital workers, who work in every DHA, primarily outside of the Capital District. The CAW represents approximately 4,000 health care workers in hospitals across Nova Scotia.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE