Campbell signals private hospital pay off to B.C. Liberals’ biggest financial backers

News release

Fraser Valley residents left in the dark about plans for Abbotsford’s MSA Hospital replacement, says HEU

Premier Gordon Campbell’s announcement of B.C.’s first taxpayer-funded private hospital to an audience of construction interests last night shows that his government’s health policies are more about private profits than the public good, says the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

Campbell told the Independent Contractors and Builders Association — a group that donated more than $150,000 to the B.C. Liberals during 2001 — that his government has given the go ahead to a so-called public-private partnership to build a new hospital in Abbotsford.

“The premier’s choice of venue for making this private hospital announcement demonstrates utter contempt for the people of the Fraser Valley who will have to live with the consequences of the scheme,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“Last night’s announcement by the premier appears to be no less than a pay off to those who bankrolled his party’s election campaign.”

Allnutt says government has yet to make a case that a privately financed and operated hospital would provide better care or be more cost effective that one financed and operated publicly.

In fact, an HEU-commissioned review of the government’s proposal for a P3 option to replace Abbottsford’s MSA hospital carried out by respected forensic auditor Ron Parks concluded that even minor changes in the financial modeling for the project could lead to a more costly project than one financed and operated publicly.

Parks also found that:

  • the proposal for a P3 hospital may have been working towards “a preconceived conclusion rather than undertaking an unbiased evaluation”;
  • with private sector involvement, there’s a need for stringent oversight and accountability measures, but the “appropriate oversight infrastructure is not in place”;
  • there are questions regarding the degree of risk transfer to the private sector — which is a key requirement of P3 projects; and
  • there has been inadequate public consultation.

Campbell did not take HEU up on an offer to meet with Parks to review his findings.

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)