“This is an insult to these health care workers who have always been helping to keep our health care system secure and operational throughout this pandemic.” — Jason MacLean, NSGEU President.
Halifax (21. Dec 2020) — As a special thank you to our health care heroes for the holidays, Nova Scotia Health (NSH) has announced their plan to contract out the work done by 91 hospital employees from the NSH to a private, American-owned company. The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) informed the provincial government of the NSH’s plan to contract out this work, but the government has allowed it to proceed.
Outsourcing health care jobs inconsistent with "health care heroes" pandemic messaging
“This is an insult to these health care workers who have always been helping to keep our health care system secure and operational throughout this pandemic,” said NSGEU President Jason MacLean.
“The work our members do is incredibly valuable, and it is not in Nova Scotians' best interest to allow a private company to take over our citizens' health records management,” said CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen.
To make matters worse, NSH is not putting the contract out for tender. They are avoiding tendering the contract by using the “Alternative Procurement Process,” claiming that only the company they have selected can do the work and that the project is an extension of an existing contract.
Loophole used multiple times to undermine workers
It certainly isn’t the first time they’ve used this loophole to avoid tendering a contract: in 2020 alone, they awarded $41 million in contracts using the Alternative Procurement Process. In contrast, the smaller IWK Health Centre has only used the Alternative Procurement Process to award untendered contracts valued at $152,149 so far this year.
“They’re handing over an untendered multi-million-dollar contract on a silver platter,” said MacLean.
The 91 workers being laid off currently work in Health Information Services (HIS), scanning and archiving medical records. They are members of the NSGEU/NUPGE and CUPE.
Women workers majority affected by the outsourcing
The majority of the members affected work in rural parts of the province. Eighty-four of the workers affected are women.
“Again, we see this government targeting a workforce that is predominantly female and outside of HRM,” said McFadgen, “They should be supporting the economy of our rural communities, especially at this uncertain time.”
NSH plans to contract out this work to Iron Mountain, which is a multinational corporation headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, with offices in Burnside.
By failing to tender this work, NSH and government cannot guarantee the contract will be competitive or that it will adequately protect citizens’ private health information. As we know, this government has repeatedly failed to protect personal, private information (see repeated FOIPOP database failures).
A copy of a report submitted to NSH by NSGEU/NUPGE and CUPE can be found here: A Matter of Trust - A Review of NSHA’s Quiet Plan to Hand Control of Nova Scotians’ Health Information to an American Company
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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