News | June 26, 2013

Tuesday's Letters, June 25th, 2013 in the Edmonton JournalWhile Alberta Health Service’s decision not to proceed with the privatization of home care delivery at three Edmonton co-operatives is welcome, it also underscores the arbitrary and thoughtless nature of the original decision. Turning the delivery of home care over to large international corporations is ideological madness.Corporations are efficient mechanisms for producing consumer goods like cars and TVs. However, when it comes to delivering sensitive public services like home care, their primary purpose — maximizing shareholder return — gets in the way.These corporations are already trying to recruit existing home care workers at salaries 40 to 50 per cent less than their current rates. Alberta Health Services has already squeezed these workers by reducing the time allotted to each client.Last week saw publication of the Canadian Home Care Association’s report Portraits of Home Care in Canada. This report shows that, in 2010, home care was a $5.9-billion public expenditure, which explains why the corporations want in. In the same year, Canadian provinces and territories spent an average of 4.1 per cent of their public health budget on home care, while Alberta spent only 2.4 per cent.In the past year, we have seen corporate operators of seniors care facilities boost their profits by discounting the public money they receive for salaries by as much as 30 per cent. We have also discovered how difficult it is to hold these corporations accountable for their actions because their operations are cloaked in the secrecy of “propriety interests.”Are we really so poor in Alberta that we have to dump our fiscal problems onto the backs of our most vulnerable citizens and the lowest paid workers?Noel Somerville, chair, Seniors Task Force, Public Interest Alberta, EdmontonRead the letter at the Edmonton Journal website.

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