HEU calls on Auditor General to investigate potential conflict in Abbotsford private hospital scheme

News release

Union questions role of multinational consulting firm advising Fraser Valley Health Region

In a letter sent this morning, the Hospital Employees’ Union is asking Auditor General Wayne K. Strelioff to review the role of multinational consulting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers in the controversial planning process to build a new hospital in Abbotsford that could create Canada’s first privately financed and owned hospital facility.

“We’re deeply troubled by the company’s role in this project,” says HEU’s secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “PWC is supposed to be providing independent and balanced advice to the region on all options — including public — to replace the aging MSA Hospital.

“But the company’s track record leads us to believe that it may be inappropriate for them to perform this work. They already profit from involvement in a number of so-called private financing hospital schemes in Britain,” he says.

“The fact that they may take a material interest in the outcome of the Abbotsford process raises concerns. We think the Auditor General should put this relationship to a test.”

And HEU members, including health care workers from the Fraser Valley, will join with workers from across Canada for a noon hour rally today against private hospitals organized by HEU’s national union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The event takes place at 12:30 p.m. outside Price Waterhouse Coopers’ downtown Vancouver headquarters at 601 West Hastings.

Meanwhile, HEU also released the results of a public opinion survey that shows that a majority of British Columbians would question Price Waterhouse Coopers’ role in the private hospital scheme.

According to the Nov. 7 — 11 survey conducted for HEU by the polling firm McIntyre and Mustel, 51 per cent of respondents felt the relationship “represents a conflict of interest,” while 37 per cent said the firm had “valuable experience and knowledge that it can pass on to the health region.” Twelve per cent of the 503 British Columbians surveyed didn’t have an opinion. The results are accurate plus or minus 4.5 per cent 95 per cent of the time.