Premier Dwight Ball had only just announced the successful proponent for the new long-term care project in Corner Brook when the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Newfoundland and Labrador started criticizing the move.
The Corner Brook Care Partnership will design, build, finance and maintain the new facility in a public private partnership (P3) arrangement with the province. The $120-million contract will cover a 30-year period.
CUPE has long spoken out against the P3 model and in a tweet said: “Call it what you like, @DwightBallMHA just privatized Newfoundland and Labrador’s health care.
Ball doesn’t see it that way.
“If CUPE or anyone else is complaining about 200 public sector jobs in this province right now, the very same people that are delivering the services to seniors and to some of the most vulnerable people in our province right now, that is not privatization.”
As he said in making the announcement at the Corner Brook Long-term Care Home in the city, Ball reiterated that nearly public sector workers will deliver the services in the government-owned and run facility.
“If they want to tell members of unions that this should not be done, we should not be providing employment for some of their members well then they can have that debate.”
The building of the long-term care is part of a campus-style build that will also see a new acute-care hospital built on the site on Corp. Pinksen Drive. It’s a project that has been 10 years in the making with many starts and stops along the way.
Ball said going the P3 route was the smarter way of doing things and will enable the province to finally deliver on the commitments it made all those years ago.
When asked how the province, with the current fiscal situation it is in, could afford to go ahead with the project, Ball responded: “How could we afford not to?”
He said the 30-year contract represents a savings of $12 million and comes with no risk to the taxpayers.
With the long-term care project contract completed the province will now move ahead with the same process to build the new hospital. A request for qualifications for the hospital will be announced before the end of the year.
Long-term care facts
Corner Brook Care Partnership
Team lead — Plenary Group
Design lead — Montgomery Sisam Architects
Construction lead — Marco Services
Service provider — G.J. Cahill
Advance design and early work on the site to start this month
Construction to begin spring 2018
Completion set for November 2019
Occupancy set for March 2020
The Corner Brook Care Partnership will be responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of the facility
Plenary Group will bring equity to the project with debt being financed through TD Security
The province will be responsible for services such as nursing care, laundry, housekeeping and dietary and they will be provided through the public sector
Upwards of 200 public sector employees will be employed at the centre
120 long-term care beds — all rooms with be private with their own washroom facilities
15 palliative care beds
10 rehabilitation beds
Right now there are 77 people in the western region waiting for long-term care
45 of those are currently in hospital, utilizing acute-care beds