EDMONTON - The announcement yesterday by Alberta Health Services (AHS) that DynaLife will expand its share of laboratory services is a clear sign of the UCP government’s ideological privatization agenda. Despite Alberta Health Quality Council’s 2017 report recommending an integrated and public laboratory testing system the UCP government is moving forward at a time when our lab services require stability.
“Public Interest Alberta will always oppose the introduction of profit into public services, ” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “The UCP have shown time after time that even during a pandemic they are willing to put critical services at risk. It’s never responsible, from a service delivery or fiscal point of view, to introduce profit into our healthcare, and when we are facing capacity and stability strains, it’s downright dangerous.’’
In 2017, the Health Quality Council of Alberta laid out a comprehensive plan for publicly delivered, integrated laboratory services, and despite implementation of the system being underway and construction of the new Edmonton lab having started, the UCP cancelled all progress after years of planning. The UCP’s own report from Ernst and Young said at the time that lab services have in recent years sustained a sustained period of “turmoil”.
According to research on the experience of Hamilton, Ontario, moving private laboratories into an integrated public, non-profit system could save more than $250 million dollars per year in Canada (McIntosh, 2020).
“This UCP government is dedicated to extracting profit for shareholders not improving services, despite the uncertainty this adds to the system and evidence in the Canadian experience that privatization costs more,” said Lafortune. “This is the wrong approach at the wrong time, and it’s just the latest example of a dangerous trend, from the UCP’s selling off of public housing to the privatization of laundry services.”
“Let’s be very clear: for the UCP this is never about the service, it’s always about carving profit from the public asset or service,” said Lafortune. “Public Interest Alberta will continue to demand the reintegration of all laboratory services into the public system. Albertans need to come before profit.”