"Is the trend toward privatizing health care services in the public interest?" — Karen Jackson, PEI UPSE President
Charlottetown (16 Feb. 2018) — The President of the PEI Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) is voicing its support for continued public home care across the Island.
In her letter to The Guardian, Karen Jackson, PEIUPSE President, writes, "In support of public health care, I would like to express concerns regarding the delivery of home care in the province. Currently the province of PEI has exceptional public home care services. A number of health professionals from a variety of health professions work daily to provide a publicly funded service that is valued by both the Islanders in need of the services and their families."
PEI government moves to privatize parts of health care system
But Jackson raises concerns about the government’s recent move to increase the role that paramedics play in the home care system. "There is nothing wrong with enhancing home care services; however, it’s important that these enhancements remain in the sphere of public health care. Paramedics in PEI are private sector employees working for Island EMS, a company owned by Medavie Health Services. Medavie Health Services has already come under fire for privatizing a number of health care services in other provinces such as New Brunswick.
Research has shown that when services are privatized quality suffers, and costs run high. Private health care operates to create profit for its shareholders instead of putting the needs of the public first.
Existing services will still be provided in the public health system, but these new EMS services are being privatized. Begging the question, "Is the trend toward privatizing health care services in the public interest?"
Privatization leads to higher costs, private contracts and loss of accountability
Jackson says, "As services become privatized there is often a loss of transparency and accountability. How will services ultimately be affected and who answers or is responsible for the delivery of these services when they are in private hands? And what about the financial aspect … are private health care providers’ books open to public scrutiny as is the case with our public health care system?"
"In Ontario, the government seems to be moving in the opposite direction as they have recently announced that they will be creating a new provincial agency to deliver home care in the province," says Jackson. "By creating the agency, the government says it will provide patients with more choice in regard to their care, from selecting their personal support worker to having more say in regard to their care schedule. It will also mean that personal support workers become provincial employees."
Existing public health care workers can do the work
PEI UPSE/NUPGE firmly believes that any expansion of our health care system, or any new initiatives and/or programs, should be delivered through the public health care system.
"At recent meetings with Health PEI the union has heard the message that everyone should be working to their full scope of practice," wrote Jackson. "There are currently public employees, many of them PEIUPSE/NUPGE members, providing home care services whose skills and abilities are not being fully utilized. Why not use these public health care workers for new initiatives and take advantage of their full abilities? And if more staff is required to take part in new initiatives, let’s invest the funds in public health care to make this a reality. "
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