Premier rebuffs expert briefing on controversial private hospital plan
Ignoring Ron Park’s review of Abbotsford private hospital plan invites a fiasco of “fast ferry” proportions, warns HEU
The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) says it’s deeply concerned after Premier Campbell rebuffed an offer from the union and respected forensic accountant Ron Parks to provide a detailed briefing of Parks’ critical, independent assessment of the Liberal’s controversial plan to build a privately owned hospital in Abbotsford.
“The Campbell government appears to be so ideologically blinded in its pursuit of private-public partnerships (P3s) that it will simply ignore well-researched findings from experts like Parks,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “It’s also a sign that a formal go ahead for a private hospital may come at the next cabinet meeting.
“Clearly, this government refuses to do its homework. By ramming through plans for private ownership of critical public assets like hospitals, the Liberals are gambling away the public interest,” he adds. “A privately financed and operated hospital in Abbotsford is shaping up to be Gordon Campbell’s fast ferry fiasco, and a sinkhole for B.C. taxpayers.”
In late April, HEU wrote the Premier offering the in-depth briefing from Parks. However, in his response—dated May 8, but only recently received by HEU—Campbell ignores the offer. The Premier claims in his letter that the private route will be “faster and cheaper.”
HEU hired Parks in April to independently analyze a controversial $250,000 government study promoting the Abbotsford private hospital option, which determined that best case, a private hospital would save less than one per cent over a 30-year period compared to a traditional publicly financed and owned facility.
The Campbell government says it will proceed with a private hospital if a strong business case can be made. But Parks’ assessment found that the Liberal’s study is based on “suspect data” and “should not be used as the basis for a definitive government decision.” Parks says the true costs of the private option haven’t been fully calculated, and even minor changes in the complex financial modeling could make the private hospital more costly than a public facility.
-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer 604-456-7039, 604-828-6771 (cell)