Lab privatization delay sign of hope for health-care union | National Union of Public and General Employees

Lab privatization delay sign of hope for health-care union

"Our union has opposed from the outset any move to take lab services out of AHS and, in fact, is on record supporting the return of all health services to public control." — Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President

Edmonton (17 July 2015) — A delay in the privatization process of Edmonton area laboratory services has been welcomed by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), the union representing about 1,500 affected front-line workers.

“We are hopeful that the delay means that the recent change in provincial government has stalled the move for further privatization of laboratory services,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA president.

Report from the vendor appeal panel will not be released until August

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has just sent a memo to affected staff saying that there will be a delay in announcing the results of an appeal by current lab-services provider DynaLIFEDX to the decision naming Sonic Healthcare of Australia as its preferred laboratory-services provider. The move to Sonic would transfer services currently provided by DynaLIFEDX and by some employees of AHS and Covenant Health.

Although AHS has had the report from the vendor bid appeal panel since June 9, the AHS memo says, “Given the detailed analysis required on the report and its recommendations, and the need to fully brief the newly-formed Government on the Edmonton Zone lab, the report will not be release to the vendors and subsequently to the public until sometime in August.”

No evidence to show that privatizing health care services beneifts communities

Ballermann says, “HSAA/NUPGE members do first-class work in laboratories whether they work in the public system or for private operators. We’re proud of their skills and dedication to patient care. However, our union has opposed from the outset any move to take lab services out of AHS and, in fact, is on record supporting the return of all health services to public control."

“No evidence given to show that any health service, including lab, is better delivered through a private provider. In fact, the opposite is true. When services are delivered publicly, they can be provided without the need to show a profit to investors. Those savings can be passed along to patients in many ways, like increasing the level of access. It also gives employees the chance to participate in the public pension plan, ensuring them security in their retirement,” she says.

Albertans better served by retaining ownership of health care infrastructure 

“Rather than hand over $3-billion of taxpayer money to a for-profit corporation, we believe Albertans would be better served by retaining ownership of vital health care infrastructure. If a fully public system is not possible at this time, we would prefer that we continue with status quo. Our members have all experienced far too much instability in their work lives, due to the constant upheaval the former government caused in our health care system.”

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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

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