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Showing posts from November, 2012

P3 corporations give award for crap financing deal

The Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships has honouredthe Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), the Collectif Santé Montréal (CSM) and Infrastructure Québec with its 2012 "Gold Prize" for financing construction of the new CHUM.

Apparently, the award goes for the project with the worst financing.  As  Luc Fouquette, the Collectif's General Manager said, "This funding is also the very first for a PPP project in Canada with a BBB rating (BBB+ by DBRS and Baa2 by Moody's)." 

P3 financing is among its worst attributes, costing the public billions in extra expense compared to public financing.  The BBB credit rating is a new low  for P3 financing. Every single P3 that has been broadly marketed so far in Canada has enjoyed an A-level rating -- until this deal came along.  

This will add even more costs for taxpayers.  Investors, in contrast, should see a nice return.  Perhaps that's why the project won the "Gold Prize".


More privatization via Liberal "community care"

Health care privatization continues to come to Ontario via the Liberal government's version of "community care."  Most obviously this comes by moving services from public hospitals to poorly regulated and for-profit retirement  homes.   That has been a repeated theme in the Liberal government's version of community care.

Another mainstay is moving services to for-profit "home care" providers.  Except, now for-profit home care is often for-profit clinical care. 
Typically, the Liberal line is we need to move services and clinics out of public hospitals and into the home.   But now the government organizations that oversee home care (Community Care Access Centres  or CCACs) are beginning to celebrate moving services out of the home and back into clinics. 
But this time the clinics are run by for-profit corporations, not public hospitals.  
In a recent news story sparked by the opening of a new clinic, the Erie-St. Clair Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) Directo…

P3 costs rise as scandal sours investors

The Washington Post reports that the sales "of Canadian project-finance bonds are lower this year as an ongoing investigation of alleged corruption in the Quebec construction industry makes the debt more expensive to issue."

The American paper adds that the "inquiry into corruption in the Quebec construction industry, which led to the resignation of Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay on Nov. 5, is souring sentiment among investors in private-public partnership bonds linked to projects for hospitals and universities in Canada’s second-largest province."

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) P3 project is now under police investigation. The National Postreports that questions are being raised whether "illicit cash payments helped the SNC-Lavalin consortium win the MUHC contract."

Three weeks ago the police raided the downtown headquarters of the MUHC. The NationalPostnotes one unconfirmed report alleged that there was a secret $22.5 million payment that…

No progress on hospital superbugs

There has been no progress stopping the spread of superbugs in Ontario hospitals according to government data.

Reported C. difficile rates are about the same as they have been, starting this past year at 0.35 cases per thousand patient days and ending it at the same level.    The annual average was also 0.35.

Month Rate Oct '11 0.35 Nov 0.32 Dec 0.36 Jan '12 0.35 Feb 0.38

Moving patients from public hospitals to private retirement homes

Health Sciences North hospital in Sudbury is planning to replace 30 hospital beds with a 25 bed unit inside a private retirement home, the CBC reports.
Richard Joly of the Northeast Community Care Access Centre says "We are committed to reducing the population that are currently residing in hospital." Like many other hospitals, Health Sciences North is grappling with a significant deficit as government funding is squeezed.  Six million dollars in the case of HSN.

Hospital officials claim the hospital beds cost $750 per day each and putting 25 beds in a private retirement home would cost $4 million less than having them at the Memorial hospital site.  In February, the hospital will stop funding the 30 beds. Similar strategies have been tried in other locales with disastrous results. In Windsor, a local hospital paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to remodel a for-profit retirement home, only to find out that even with the remodeling, the beds still did not meet the required sta…

Mississauga-Halton gets bigger home care increase

Another home care funding announcement came out today, this time for Mississauga-Halton.

The news this time was a little better, with a 4.1% funding increase for home care via $5.12 million for the Mississauga-Halton Community Care Access Centre.  

That is a bit better than the Hamilton-Niagara area, which received 3.25%, and the Ottawa area, which received 3.74%. 
This is the first CCAC to actually get the 4% funding increase suggested by the provincial government.

Docs up $8,300 each in recent negotiations?

Dr. Michael Rachlis, a well known expert on the health care system, suggests there is more to the recent deal the province hatched with the Ontario Medical Association than has been reported.

He estimates that increased utilization and "fee drift" will mean an extra $200 million for doctors.  

With about 24,000 full time (equivalent) doctors in the province, that works out to an extra $8,333 each.  That is small change compared to some of the income improvements the docs have achieved over the last decade, but it is pretty significant by anybody else's measure.  Certainly it's a lot better than what the McGuinty government is offering to the rest of us further on down the pecking order (see the McGuinty government's list of concessions demands for its own workers here) .

OCHU long ago flagged the mighty increases the doctors were getting from the McGuinty government, but this was only identified through a retrospective review of annual government Budget documents k…

McGuinty government demands multiple concessions

As expected, the McGuinty government has made a long series of concession demands at the OPSEU "OPS" negotiations, where OPSEU is bargaining on behalf of 36,000 provincial civil servants. Here is what OPSEU saw from the government on the first day:
A two-year agreement. A two-year pay freeze. Creation of a new step on the wage grid 3 per cent lower than the lowest step. Reduce sick time payments after six days from 75 per cent to 66 and two-thirds per cent. Implement two unpaid days for more than six continuous absences. Ability to top up sick leave only to 75 per cent and only with vacation credits. Change benefits to a maximum annual dollar limit for all services instead of service specific caps. Increased use of temporary employees and consultants. Gutting Job Security (Article 20 and Appendix 40) Increase full-time conversion unclassified employees from 18 months to 24 months. Elimination of termination pay under Reasonable Efforts Eliminating termination pay for all new employees …

PCs rule out legislative wage freeze deal with McGuinty

The Progressive Conservatives have  -- effectively -- ruled out reaching an agreement with the McGuinty government on a legislative public sector "wage freeze".

While complaining that the Dalton McGuinty government has not pursued negotiations with the PCs over a legislated wage freeze, PC point-man Peter Shurman  let slip that one of the demands the PCs put to the Liberals was that the government would have to guarantee that whoever succeeds McGuinty as Liberal leader would also impose whatever deal the PCs and the McGuinty government worked out.

That's an impossible promise for McGuinty to make. Once someone else is in charge, she (or he) will be in charge -- and there's nothing McGunity can do about that. He's a lame duck leader with zero authority after the (fast approaching) leadership convention January 25-26.

The PC demand is unworkable.  The reality is both the PCs and McGuinty have very limited options -- no one knows what the next leader will do on this…

Elderly pushed out of hospitals: Elder Advocate

Jane Meadus of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly says that some seniors are being pushed out of hospital too soon under the province's Home First policy, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

"Patient safety is at high risk...While many patients will do well at home with extra home-care services, there are many who are too sick to be cared for at home."

Some elderly patients are being "forced" to go home to recuperate without being given the option to apply for long-term care and waiting for a bed while in hospital. And that might violate their legal rights.  In other cases, people are being pressured to enter private retirement homes, which can cost $5,000 a month and might not be able to provide the care needed, Meadus told the Citizen.

"There have already been cases where people have died due to being forced into them while really requiring long-term care."

ACE has received about 250 complaints from across Ontario in the past year. "Discharge from ho…

OSSTF bargaining stops as OPSEU talks start

Negotiations between the government and Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) have broken off. OSSTF vice-president, Harvey Bischof said that the provincial government walked away from the bargaining table, leaving the union little choice but to step up their efforts. OSSTF is now planning job action at 20 school boards.

OSSTF president Ken Coran added, “It blows me away that they ended discussions when there still were suggestions to be explored — we felt close on a number of issues."

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten called proposed OSSTF job action “disappointing" and suggested that negotiations at the provincial level are no longer possible.  Broten also said that under Bill 115, the province has “the tools to act and will fully explore these options” as teachers begin their job actions.

New Options
Meanwhile, Gerard Kennedy has declared he will run to replace McGuinty as the Liberal leader, and has suggested he would take a different path.  Telling th…

Liberal excuse for ending collective bargaining in tatters

September was a big month for collective agreement settlements in Ontario and the wage settlements fell, according to the government of Ontario.  Public sector settlements for 36,348 workers saw annual average wage increases of 0.6%.

 This occurred despite higher increases for over 11,000 of these public sector workers:

Two police settlements covering over 1,000 employees saw 3% annual wage increases, Two other municipal settlements covering almost 1,000 workers got 1.9% increases,Agreements covering 4,500 academics at four universities got settlements in the 1.2% to 2.0% range, and Three hospital settlements covering 4,800 workers simply caught up to the CUPE central hospital wage pattern achieved in 2009 (2%). Most of the other settlements in the broader public sector saw zip over their term.  Despite this, the Liberal party saw fit to call for legislation (The Protecting Public Services Act) at the end of September that would have stopped free collective bargaining in the broader p…

Home and community care funding less than promised

The announcements of new "home and community care" funding (which started last week) continue, this time for the Ottawa area.

First the good news.  The $7.15 million announced for the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) amounts to 3.74% increase over the CCAC budget set out in 2011-12 Champlain LHIN performance agreement. The Hamilton-Niagara CCAC increase announced last week was 3.25%.  So this is a little higher, albeit short of the 4% home and community care funding increase promised by the government.
Moreover, the overall announced increase of $11.1 million falls well short of the 4% increase for home and community care announced by the government. 
If you add together all the items in 2011-12 Champlain LHIN accountability agreement that easily fit in to “community and home care” (i.e. the CCAC, Community Support Services, Assisted Living Services, Community Health Centre, and Community Mental Health line items), the total is $357.2 million. 
The $11.1 million total in…

Tiny cracks appear in Liberal attack on collective bargaining

After the architects of the Liberal attack on collective bargaining (Premier McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan) announced their exit from provincial politics, the first, very modest, move away from their policy has appeared.

The Globe reports that leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne says she will not introduce broader public sector legislation:

“She distanced herself from Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has spent much of this year fighting with the province’s teachers and doctors, by saying she would not pursue his plans to introduce legislation that would freeze wages for public-sector workers for two years.” Albeit, they quote her saying:

“My hope is we would see more negotiated settlements, and that the imposition of collective agreements wouldn’t be necessary. It would be moot.”

McGunity had unveiled (but had not introduced to the legislature) legislation in late September that would have stopped free collective bargaining in the broader public sector (the so-called "…