Private hospital in Abbotsford opposed by 71 per cent of public, including majority of Liberal supporters - poll

News release

Forensic accountant Ron Parks’ review of controversial consultant’s study to be made public Wednesday, May 8

With the report of respected forensic accountant Ron Parks into the controversial Abbotsford private hospital proposal set to be made public Wednesday afternoon, the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) today released polling data that shows that British Columbians are overwhelmingly opposed to what would be Canada’s first privately owned and operated hospital.

More than 71 per cent of British Columbians do not support building a private hospital in Abbotsford, and feel that the small cost savings projected by a consultant’s report would not justify such a move. According to the opinion survey completed April 16 by McIntyre and Mustel, only 18 per cent of the public would support privatizing a new hospital, while 11 per cent don’t know. More detailed findings show that even people who would vote Liberal if an election were held now also oppose a private facility. Just shy of 55 per cent of Liberal supporters would oppose, while 30 per cent are in support, and 15 per cent don’t know.

“The polling results are an extremely strong sign that British Columbians don’t support a private hospital,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “And it shows that a government that is already facing a mini revolt over its health care policies will again face strong public opposition to privatizing a new health care facility.”

The results, says Allnutt, “will disappoint the Campbell Liberals because the Abbotsford private hospital scheme is the centre piece of Victoria’s strategy to privatize financing, ownership and operation of dozens of new health facilities.”

Best known for his Bingogate investigation in the mid-1990s, accountant Parks was engaged in April by HEU to conduct an independent analysis of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by the Campbell government to promote construction of a privately owned and operated hospital and cancer centre for the Fraser Valley. That study suggests that a private hospital would at best save less than one per cent over 30 years compared to a publicly financed, owned and operated facility.

Allnutt says Parks’ findings will provide an unbiased analysis and critique of the PWC report, as well as concise recommendations for government. He added that as a good faith gesture, HEU offered to brief Premier Campbell on those findings in advance of the public release. But the Premier’s office, says Allnutt, has not responded to the invitation.

The McIntyre and Mustel poll survey of 501 British Columbians was conducted April 9 to 16, and is considered accurate to within 4.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Here is the exact question posed: A consultant’s report commissioned by the provincial government says building a privately owned and operated hospital in Abbotsford would save less than one per cent over a publicly owned and operated hospital. In your view, would these savings justify privatizing a major new health care facility?

    Yes                17.5 per cent No                 71.2 per cent Don’t know    11.3 per cent
-30- Contact: Stephen Howard, director of communications, 604-240-8524 (cell)