TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2018 /CNW/ - The provincial government is being urged to "seize the moment" and protect patients and hospital staff by ending privatization of contracted out hospital services following the complete collapse of private contractor Carillion.
The united call comes from Unifor and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), which represent hundreds of staff at William Osler Health System, The Royal Ottawa Hospital, Halton Healthcare and the Sault Area Hospital, that all have service contracts with Carillion. These hospital workers are among the 6000 Canadian workers who are affected by the Carillion liquidation.
"In Britain the hospital staff employed by Carillon have been given guarantees by the British government that they will continue to be paid. The provincial government needs to make the same assurances to the hospital staff working at Carillion's Ontario P3 hospitals. It is also time for these projects to be brought back into the public sector. The folly of private ownership of the hospitals is exposed fully by this bankruptcy," says OCHU president Michael Hurley.
The British government has committed that services contracted with Carillion but funded by the public purse will continue to be provided and advised workers in those industries that they will be paid and to continue to go to work. No such promise however has been made by the Ontario government, leaving in question the future of public services provided by Carillion workers.
UK media are reporting that while the company was imploding Carillion bosses pocketed millions of pounds in bonuses. An inquiry is now called to investigate. Thousands of small businesses are owed money by Carillion and the future of many of them may now be in doubt. Will they be protected?
"Contracting out to these private firms puts public services at risk. This is more than a cautionary tale for our provincial government. These contracted out hospital services must be brought back under public delivery and guarantee that affected workers are paid," says Katha Fortier, Unifor Assistant to the National President.
Ontario's auditor has challenged the wisdom of the provincial government's use of private contractors and private capital infrastructure, estimating that they've cost $8 billion more than had the projects been fully public. The auditor also found that Carillion cost over-runs during the construction of William Osler amounted to more than $200 million.
Just last December, a damning 2017 Ontario auditor's report showed that hospitals are being gouged by P3 contractors for maintenance work not covered under the original P3 contract. Several hospitals are in long-term disputes with P3 maintenance companies over these contracts which often last for 30 years.
OCHU the hospital arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario and Unifor together represent nearly 50,000 hospital staff in hospitals across the province.