“This entire situation is a glimpse into one of the major pitfalls of privatization of public services — a lack of transparency and accountability." — Jerry Earle, NAPE President
St. John's (28 June 2016) —Jerry Earle, President of Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) is supporting recent recommendations by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) that Eastern Health release the contracts for privatized health care services to the public.
Three corporations fought the release of health care service contracts
The recommendations are contained in 2 reports by the OIPC stemming from Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act (Act) requests filed by NAPE/NUPGE earlier this year. NAPE/NUPGE had requested the contracts for 3 contractors at Eastern Health: (1) Morrison Healthcare/Compass Group/Crothall Healthcare (Crothall), (2) Paladin Security (Paladin), (3) Vinci Park/indigo (Vinci). Crothall provides management level support for environmental and food services, Paladin provides security services, and Vinci provides parking services.
All 3 companies initially filed complaints with the OIPC objecting to the release of their contracts. Vinci eventually dropped their complaint. Crothall and Paladin, however, continued their objections, which led to the OIPC reports in question.
Transparency key when corporations receive government funding
“We applaud the decision of the OIPC recommending the release of these corporate health care contracts to the public,” said Earle. “We firmly believe that this is in the public’s best interest — to ensure openness and transparency in how our public health care system operates and how taxpayer dollars are being spent.”
“We also support the OIPC’s suggestion that all public bodies move to an 'open contracting system,' under which contracts for the provision of goods and services are published without the need to access to information requests; just like the contracts we negotiate with the government and employers across the province,” said Earle. “This would provide a greater level of transparency and avoid time consuming and costly access to information requests.”
Public has a right to know if checks and balances are in place with private contracting
The legislation stipulates that Eastern Health has 10 business days upon the receipt of each report from the OIPC to decide on whether or not they will follow the recommendations of the OIPC. The complainants — Crothall and Paladin — will then have 15 days to appeal these decisions to the Supreme Court Trial Division, pursuant to section 52 of the act.
“We urge Eastern Health to comply with the recommendations made by the OIPC to make these contracts public,” continued Earle.
“The public has every right to see if public funds are being used properly and to know if adequate checks and balances are in place,” stated Earle. “We are hopeful that this matter, which has already chewed up valuable public resources for a number of months, does not end up going to court. This will only serve to tie up the court system with frivolous proceedings and further drain public resources.”
“This entire situation is a glimpse into one of the major pitfalls of privatization of public services — a lack of transparency and accountability. These corporations are putting their interests ahead of those of the people of the province — plain and simple.”
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