For Immediate Release:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Full Steam Ahead for Government’s Privatization Agenda

St. JOHN’S, NL – Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) President (elect) Jerry Earle is expressing his concern and frustration about statements made by Minister of Health and Community Services Steve Kent last week regarding further privatization of long term care.

“It has become abundantly clear that Mr. Kent and this government are dead set on moving forward at break neck speed with their privatization agenda in health care. This is extremely concerning,” said Earle. “First, it was adult basic education and group homes, then food services and security at the Health Sciences Centre. Now the privatization target is painted on long term care; public private partnerships and offloading of public long term care beds onto the private system. What’s next?”

Last week, in response to questions on the matter in the House of Assembly, Minister Kent said that the government was paying a privately owned and operated facility to use 15 of its long term care beds. According to the government, this move was made because they could not find sufficient staff to open the remaining 30 unopened beds at the new Long Term Care Facility in Pleasantville.

“The lack of planning and foresight by this government is astounding,” continued Earle. “The government knew what staffing resources would be needed to run the new facility and yet, here they are scrambling to the private system for resources. Combined with the ill-conceived and rushed plan to move forward with P3s – which we still know very little about – it is clear that this Minister and this government are set on selling off our healthcare system piece by piece to the private sector.”

Minister Kent also acknowledged that there are issues with recruitment, retention, and staffing levels which have led to increases in overtime, sick leave and refusals to approve leave for staff at the long term care facility.

“Minister Kent can try to place the blame on the dedicated and hardworking public sector healthcare workers at the long term care facility, but we all know that it is his government which failed to adequately plan and prepare for the opening of the new facility,” stated Earle. “We have members being refused leave, doing double shifts, being asked to stay on when their shifts are done, and working in units that are short staffed. Government’s failure to develop a staffing strategy has left existing workers stressed and overworked, and then they have the gall to place the blame for unopened beds on the workers? It’s unbelievable.”

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For further information please contact:

Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator

(phone) 709.570.2501             (cell) 709.631.9737        (e-mail)