Consult with public before contracting out to private clinics, HEU urges

News release

Liberal flip flop on private clinics a “black eye for new government’s credibility”

The Hospital Employees’ Union says it’s deeply disappointed and troubled by Victoria’s move to contract out surgical services to private for-profit clinics, and the union is calling on Premier Campbell to carry out province-wide consultations that will give British Columbians an opportunity to express their views on such a controversial and unproven move.

The union’s concerns arise in the wake of revelations today that government officials gave a green light to privatization in secret meetings with health care adminitrators in the summer.

“This is a major policy change in B.C. that has huge repercussions for the future of public Medicare,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “And it’s quite frightening that a government that ran on a platform of openness and transparency would make such a decision behind closed doors and without any form of consultation whatsoever.

“It also represents a real flip flop by the Premier,” says Allnutt, who pointed out that before the May provincial election Premier Campbell made no mention of his support for private clinics. In fact, says Allnutt, in an exclusive in-depth interview published in December in HEU’s award-winning newspaper, The Guardian, Campbell said his government was committed to making private clinics “redundant.”

“I want to get the public system back firing on all cylinders,” Campbell said at the time, “so that they [private clinics] become redundant.” But Allnutt says the Liberal’s about-face on private clinics “is definitely a black eye for the new government’s credibility.”

Allnutt points out that claims by private clinic proponents of greater efficiency are entirely unproven. And he warns that government support of private clinics will cause further deterioration of the public system.