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June 18, 2003

Fredericton – The New Brunswick Health Coalition is urging Premier Lord to abandon plans for a private partnership for construction of a new hospital in Woodstock.

The Premier has suggested inviting the private sector to build a new $75 million hospital for Woodstock to replace the existing Carleton Memorial Hospital.  It was a commitment made before and during the recent election campaign.

“Our concern is three-fold,” said NB Health Coalition Co-Chair David Rouse.

“First there is the cost of such a plan.  It always costs the private sector more to borrow money than it does government because of the breadth of government operations.  This means that it will cost the taxpayer more because the private company has to pay more to borrow the money for the project. That is why hospitals built and administered by governments cost less in the long run.”  

“Second, there are more than enough examples where public-private partnerships lead to problems.  In New Brunswick, think about the failed Wackenhut deal on the Miramichi or the famous “toast from Toronto” for the Saint John Regional Hospital.  Government may think it’s hit a gold mine in this public-private partnerships, but in the final analysis, it’s the taxpayer who gets the shaft.”

“Third, our tax dollars should not be used for profit and that’s something the government may not understand,” said Mr. Rouse.  “Our tax dollars should be used to support public services – from the construction through to the delivery of services.  Health care, despite recent moves in other jurisdictions, is not up for sale and should not be up for sale in New Brunswick.”

“While the Premier insists that medical services would remain publicly funded and administered by the government, we have to wonder about building management and maintenance in such primary areas as hygiene and food preparation.  Do we want to see some private sector company cutting back on hygiene as a way to increase profits?  Are we prepared to accept a higher rate of infection because of that?”

“Today, we are calling upon Premier Lord to forget a public-private partnership as it relates to the construction of a new hospital in Woodstock and get on with the job.  The community deserves a new hospital and it should be built without haste.  This issue has been a political football long enough.  Now is the time for the Premier to deliver on his promise.  Build the hospital using a public design and build component and deliver the kind of health care people in Carleton County deserve,” said Mr. Rouse.

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For more information:
David Rouse
(506) 432-0618

Jean Claude Basque
(506) 851-7086



Backgrounder:

The New Brunswick Health Coalition was established in 1980 with the mission of promoting public health care in New Brunswick.  The Coalition represents more than 20 groups across the province – both social-community based groups and labour organizations with the following objectives:

    1.    to save Medicare from further erosion and restore full compliance with the five basic principles:
        -    universality
        -    accessibility
        -    portability
        -    comprehensive coverage
        -    non profit administration

    2.    to press vigorously to bring about improvements in health care

    3.    to encourage the involvement of consumers in the planning, delivery and control of health care         services.