Delays investigating conflict of interest in health care privatization worrying

dictionary page of the word profiteer

January 15 2024

When It comes to the issue of privatization, one of the problems is the potential for corruption. When public services are privatized, there is a very real danger that individuals in positions of power who will profit from privatization will use their position to influence decisions about how services are delivered.

That danger makes the recent handling of a conflict of interest complaint (The Tyee) involving a part-owner of a for-profit surgical clinic in Alberta very worrying. Even though Alberta Health Services (AHS) by-laws call for investigations into conflict of interest complaints to be completed within 120 days, this complaint is still open over a year after it was lodged. And the person who is the subject of the complaint has been promoted by AHS.

The complaint, made by several Edmonton-area doctors, is that an administrator with AHS who is the part-owner of the pro-profit clinic Canadian Cancer Care was involved in decisions that led to patients being “directed from the public system to the private clinic.” If the complaint is upheld, the administrator would be in violation of the conflict of interest rules.

Profiteers should not be a part of decision-making in public health care

There is also the larger issue of allowing anyone who profits from health care privatization to be making decisions about the public health care. Since the fees for privatized medical procedures are usually higher, there is a built-in incentive for individuals or businesses involved in both the public and private systems to do as little as possible to support the public system.

When people stand to profit from weakening the public health care system, even if they are staying within the rules, they shouldn’t be involved in decisions about the delivery of health care.

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