When you do business with public bodies and with public funds, you have an obligation to be transparent. These corporations obviously see it a different way and want to put their business interests ahead of the public’s right to know.” — Jerry Earle, NAPE President
St. John's (30 March 2016) — The President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) is voicing his concern and frustration with a recent refusal by three private companies to release information about their dealings with Eastern Health under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA).
Private companies withhold financial and service information from the public
Compass Healthcare Group (which includes Crothall Healthcare and Morrison Healthcare), Paladin Security, and Vinci Park/Indigo are private, for-profit entities based outside of Newfoundland and Labrador that are engaged in contractual agreements with Eastern Health. Crothall provides management level support for environmental services, Morrison Healthcare provides food services, Paladin provides security services, and Vinci provides parking services. All four of these services have been privatized either in recent years or months.
“A number of operational concerns and queries about each of these three corporations has been brought forward by our members in recent months, As a resul,t NAPE/NUPGE filed separate ATIP requests with Eastern Health for detailed financial and contract information for each corporation,” said Jerry Earle, President of NAPE. “We wanted to see if Eastern Health was getting good value for money from these private corporations to ensure that taxpayers dollars are being used wisely. Unfortunately, each of these three companies has objected to our request to see their contracts with Eastern Health.”
Private companies ignore calls for transparency — file complaint over ATIP requests
“This means that the public may not have access to how their tax dollars are being spent in our public health care system if these corporations are successful in keeping their contracts private and confidential,” said Earle. “This simply isn’t good enough. When you do business with public bodies and with public funds, you have an obligation to be transparent. These corporations obviously see it a different way and want to put their business interests ahead of the public’s right to know.”
Each of the companies has filed a complaint to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC).
According to section 44(4) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the time period for informally resolving the complaint is 30 business days from the date that the OIPC received the complaint. If the complaint is not resolved informally, then pursuant to section 46 (1), the OIPC has 65 business days from the receipt of the complaint to complete a formal investigation and make a report.
Lack of transparency and accountability are trademark consequences of privatization
“Without the ability to see the contracts, the public has no ability to see if public funds are being used properly and efficiently, or if adequate performance checks and balances are in place. As if that weren’t enough, we now have a situation where valuable public resources are being tied up in this matter — a situation that could drag on for months and potentially end up in court,” stated Earle. “This situation should be seen as a clear warning sign of one of the biggest drawbacks of privatization — lack of transparency and accountability. We are extremely concerned and I believe the public will feel the same way.”
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