“The promises of shorter wait times, of innovation, and of cost savings have just evaporated. In the end, I'm prepared to bet that Alberta tax payers will be paying a whole lot more than we would have if we had never travelled down this slippery slope,” Elisabeth Ballermann.
Edmonton (3 May 2010) – The Stelmach government’s latest “privatization scheme gone awry” could further compromise the health of hundreds of Calgarians scheduled for hip and knee surgeries at a for-profit facility facing bankruptcy, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).
“I would hope that Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Stelmach government take a lesson from this, as they continue to look to the private sector to provide vital services to Albertans,” exclaimed HSAA President Elisabeth Ballermann, in reference to Calgary’s Health Resource Centre HRC), which is now embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings.
HSAA has learned that Alberta Health Services filed an application in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench today, to protect the interests of patients, during bankruptcy proceedings in an ongoing legal dispute between Networc Health Inc., which owns HRC, and one of its creditors. AHS requested the Court to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc., as the interim receiver for Networc Health Inc.
In 2006, the former Calgary Health Region - with the provincial government’s blessing - contracted out hip, knee, foot and ankle surgeries to HRC using public funds. According to Alberta Health Services, HRC conducted close to 1,000 surgeries in 2009-10, and was responsible for one-third of all hip and knee surgeries performed in Calgary.
“For so long we've been inundated with the mantra that anything the public sector does the private sector can do better and cheaper,” said Ballermann, pointing to another failed privatization scheme, which saw the former Capital Health Region repatriate lab services to Edmonton hospitals in 2005, following a failed attempt to privatize the critical medical services.
“In the end, when push comes to shove, they look to public dollars to bail them out, or simply fold the tent and close.”
Literally hundreds of Calgary patients scheduled for surgery at HRC, many of whom have suffered through pain for months or even years, could now find themselves placed on another lengthy wait list.
“The promises of shorter wait times, of innovation, and of cost savings have just evaporated. In the end, I'm prepared to bet that Alberta tax payers will be paying a whole lot more than we would have if we had never travelled down this slippery slope.”
Ballermann added: “I can only imagine the uncertainty that patients who were booked at HRC will now be feeling, not to mention the people who work at HRC. They too must be wondering what the future holds for them!”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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