Order release of uncensored private hospital report - HEU to privacy commissioner

News release

Click here for “Transparent” version now available at www.heu.org

Citing the public interest, B.C.’s largest health care union has asked the provincial information and privacy commissioner to order the Fraser Health Authority to release the full uncensored details of a controversial report recommending a private hospital in the Fraser Valley.

A censored version of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ report recommending a privately financed and owned hospital in Abbotsford was released Monday in response to a freedom of information request filed by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE). But critical financial assumptions and recommendations related to required legislative changes necessary to enable a private hospital are blacked out in the report.

“The Campbell Liberals had promised the citizens of the Fraser Valley a voice in the future of their new hospital,” says HEU acting secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “But they won’t even let the public know what assumptions are being made to justify privatizing health services in the region.

“There are huge risks involved with this project,” adds Bosancic, “and those risks will be borne by taxpayers and local residents who depend on the health care system. They deserve to know the full story.”

Some of those risks are clear, says Bosancic, since a formatting error on the initial electronic version of the report made it possible to “cut and paste” blacked out text into a word processing program. The censored information reveals that:

  • even after a range of accounting techniques are applied, a private hospital would only save one per cent — at best — over thirty years as compared to a public hospital (in the UK, this model has resulted in cost overruns, closed beds and service cuts);
  • numerous laws would need to be changed including the Hospital Act, Hospital District Act, Hospital Insurance Act, and the Health Authorities Act; and
  • even more rollbacks to labour laws may be required to clear the way for private hospitals.
The report is available at the government’s Health Services Group web site, though you can no longer copy out the severed sections. The more transparent version of the report is available at www.heu.org.

The union is also appealing a $998 processing fee charged by the FHA for producing the supporting documents — also censored — used to justify the report’s conclusions.

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct) or 604-828-6771 (cell)