Nurses call for an immediate moratorium on private financing for hospitals
TORONTO, Dec. 10, 2008 – Ontario nurses say this week’s auditor general’s report proves public-private-partnerships (P3s) are pricey, and are urging the government to place an immediate moratorium on using private financing to build hospitals.
The demand, by members of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), follows Auditor General Jim McCarter’s conclusion that Brampton Civic Hospital didn’t deliver the promised cost efficiencies. In fact, not only did the P3 (public-private partnership) arrangement cost an estimated $300 million more, it took longer to build and opened with 479 instead of the promised 608 beds originally planned.
RNAO President Wendy Fucile says she wasn’t surprised by McCarter’s findings. "When former Premier Mike Harris directed that future hospitals be built using private sector partners, the people of Ontario were told this was a good idea because it would save money. Now, the provincial auditor has confirmed what we knew all along - private financing costs taxpayers more. Hospitals are meant to serve the public and we should make sure that they are financed and built with the public in mind, not some company shareholder."
Although the McGuinty government changed the rules around private financing of public infrastructure projects such as hospitals and developed a model known as Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP), RNAO believes the taxpayer is no better protected than under the P3 scheme initiated by the previous government. "We are most concerned that more than a dozen hospitals are to be built under this new method and we are calling for an immediate moratorium," Fucile says.
RNAO’s Executive Director Doris Grinspun says the Auditor’s findings confirm the association’s suspicions about these arrangements. Earlier this year, RNAO and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study that examined the province’s AFP method. RNAO and CCPA concluded that the government’s prediction that these deals with the private sector would save millions of dollars was doubtful. The study also concluded that the new method didn’t provide enough information or transparency to ensure value for money.
"Given the Auditor’s findings about the Brampton hospital, we want full disclosure of the financial details of the government’s AFP deals and we call on the Auditor to step in immediately to determine whether the public is getting the value they’ve been promised. Until then, we need a moratorium," says Grinspun.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.-30-
For more information:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario