Health care should not be for profit

Businesses take advantage of the system to profit from the sick.

Dear editor,

Premier Clark announced on April 26 this year that the government has approved the North Island Hospitals Project to build two new hospitals on the North Island. The current plan is that they will be P3s, Public-Private Partnerships.

The plan is that through Partnerships BC, the government will award a contract to design, finance, build, and maintain the hospitals until about 2047. Regardless of changes of government, changes in medical practice, unforeseen health care needs, etc., virtually everything but nursing care will be delivered by private contractors for the next 30 years.

P3 backers argue that the beauty of handing over the financing to a private partner is that the private finance company “takes the risk”. Not true. Whether the government borrows or some global multinational borrows, it is the people of B.C., through our taxes, who pay.  Governments get better loan rates from banks to cover the capital cost of building and purchasing equipment for hospitals so if the government borrows we pay less.

Since 2008, banks and financiers are pulling out of P3 financing. The new Fort St. John Hospital, which started out with great fanfare as 90 per cent private and 10 per cent public, ended up, very quietly, being about 10 per cent private and 90 per cent public. So much for the financing advantage.

The argument for handing over control of the physical operation and other aspects of running a hospital for 30 years is that the private companies involved are “on the hook” for problems that arise and the contracts provide “penalties” for poor performance. In practice, once the contracts are signed (think about those 30 years), health authorities and governments have had a very hard time renegotiating to meet new needs or to enforce penalties.

VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority), at the end of a five-year food service contract with Compass in 2011, thought it had solved the problem of widespread complaints of poor quality food by awarding the new five-year contract to a new company, Marquise. But within a month Compass had bought Marquise and there was apparently nothing VIHA could do about it.

The 30-year contract, not the capital financing, is what makes these P3s lucrative for the monopolies, and their lawyers. In 2009 forensic accountants Ron Parks and Rosanne Terhart reported that in all cases, P3s cost substantially more over the life of the contract than public projects. Their in-depth study of the Diamond Centre showed that  “…the Diamond Centre (at Vancouver General Hospital) will cost $203 million over the life of the contract as compared to a cost of $89 million had the project been publicly delivered – a difference of nearly 130 per cent”.

That’s $114 million that could have gone to patient care if the hospital was publicly run.

Health care is a right that must be provided for all based on need, not ability to pay. Public funds must be used for health care, not to enrich the owners and shareholders of the consortia that would run the P3 hospitals. Health care and profits don’t mix. If the success of your business is based on increasing profits for the shareholders, anything that hurts profits results in cuts — cuts to services, cuts to staff, cuts to health care.

There is no reason the North Island Hospitals should be P3s and a million reasons that they should not!

Lois Jarvis, Campbell River

Barbara Biley, Comox

Citizens for Quality Health Care

Just Posted

Port Hardy approves the first step towards new subdivision

Mayor and council pass rezoning needed for new development

Windmill blade display finds a home in Port Hardy

The blade will be installed on the corner of Highway 19 and the Bear Cove Highway

Port Harvey shipyard greenlit

Bylaw 895 has been adopted by RDMW

Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department appoints deputy chief

Port McNeill Fire Chief Dean Tait has appointed 10+ year firefighter veteran… Continue reading

Port McNeill in Focus: Childcare Availability Crisis a Good News/Bad News Story

On average, childcare across the country is unavailable, unaffordable, and the quality varies.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

B.C. dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

The Infants Act currently states children under 19 years old may consent to medical treatment on own

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

VIDEO: B.C. woman gets up-close view of Royal wedding

Kelly Samra won a trip back to her home country to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’

30 C in B.C., 30 cm of snow expected for eastern Canada

It might be hot in B.C., but the rest of Canada still dealing with cold

Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

Alberta says pipeline bottlenecks are kneecapping the industry, costing millions of dollars a day

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

Most Read