“Ultimately, we have major reservations about the speed at which this project is being forced upon the people of this province, with very little in the way of details or assurances." — Jerry Earle, NAPE President
St. John's (06 July 2015) — Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) President Jerry Earle is expressing his concern with the recently released request for proposals (RFP) for long-term care projects by the provincial government.
Request for proposal signals long-term care privatization by Newfoundland and Labrador government
“We haven’t been able to get much information from this government about the particulars of their proposed public private partnerships (P3) for long-term care, so we are left to glean what we can from the RFP that was put out last week. Hopefully, government can provide some answers,” said Earle. “After going through the RFP, we have some serious concerns about the P3 projects for long-term care.”
“According to the RFP, the contracts will be signed with the successful proponent by the first week of October. It is scary to think that a project of this magnitude is being rushed through the selection and negotiation process,” continued Earle. “With a provincial election rapidly approaching, it raises serious questions about why this government is rushing through this process. Why the hurry?”
Concern about public health care dollars leaving province with for-profit care
“The next concern we have is that there doesn’t seem to be a clause that gives preference to proponents from this province,” said Earle. “We could very well have a situation where public health care dollars are being sent out of this province in the form of profit. I don’t believe that —and I am willing to bet that the vast majority of the people of this province would agree with me — this is in the best interest of our province, its people, or the integrity of our public health care system.”
“Our union also has reservations about the confidentiality clauses in the RFP, which could mean that vitally important information is kept from the public about this selection process, and maybe even about the final contracts,” stated Earle. “From what we can tell, we will have to wait for the selection process to be over and the contracts to be awarded before we can file an access to information request about the RFP. After that, we will wait to see if the access to information request will be granted in full, in part, or at all."
Privatization experience shows public kept in dark on details of P3s
Earle continued, "In the end, information could be withheld from the public because it is deemed ‘commercially sensitive.’ As we have seen in other jurisdictions in Canada, this sort of secrecy has led to serious issues with other P3 projects. On top of all of that, it appears as if Partnerships BC, which was sole sourced to essentially act as a consultant to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador on this P3 project, is subject to the Freedom of information Act only for that province.”
P3s are like renting a home for 25 years rather than owning
“Another issue we have with the RFP is the length of the agreement with the successful proponent(s). According to the RFP, the provincial government will enter into a 25-year agreement with the private provider,” said Earle. “The private company will be responsible to design, build and operate the long-term care facility for 25 years with guaranteed levels of income. At the end of the agreement, the people of this province will not own any assets. It’s like renting a home for 25 years as opposed to owning it at the end of a mortgage. It makes no sense.”
Government rushing P3 decision
“Ultimately, we have major reservations about the speed at which this project is being forced upon the people of this province, with very little in the way of details or assurances,” stated Earle. “Long-term care — the care of our seniors and our most vulnerable — is too important to be rushed. The consequences of this process will be felt for many years, both in terms of care and of the cost to the people of this province.”
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