As Sechelt council begins its review of yet another bid by Trellis to build a long-term care facility in West Sechelt, a damning report by B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie puts the lie to many of the claims made by defenders of the project. Entitled A Billion Reasons to Care, the report gives decisive proof that for-profit contractors deliver inferior care, underpay workers and engage in dubious business practices to improve their bottom line.
According to Mackenzie, B.C. for-profit care providers annually spend an average of $10,000 less per patient on direct care than do non-profits. And whereas within a single year non-profits delivered an additional 80,000 hours of care, for-profits provided a staggering 207,000 hours less than they had contracted for.
For-profits also pay their workers considerably less, with care aides receiving as much as seven dollars an hour below industry standard. Mackenzie makes clear that underpayment of workers is a major factor in the chronic staff shortages and high turnover rates that plague the long-term care sector.
Furthermore, Mackenzie cites serious deficiencies in expense auditing and a lack of consistent guidelines and policies among health authorities. She notes that for-profits have higher administrative costs, and building expenses more than twice as high as non-profits. In response to a reporter’s question, Mackenzie agreed that the Ministry of Health has essentially given for-profit corporations a blank cheque for how they spend taxpayer dollars.
The NDP government was elected on a promise to defend public health care. Allowing the Silverstone project to proceed will represent a betrayal of our community and show that the party is more concerned with serving corporate interests than protecting the health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Ian McLatchie, Protect Public Health Care – Sunshine Coast (PPHC)