Nfld. & Labrador

Corner Brook's long-term care centre to open in 2020, funded by public-private partnership

The province has released details about the new long-term care facility in Corner Brook, including the private companies which will be involved in project.

Newfoundland & Labrador Federation of Labour voices concern about such partnerships

Premier Dwight Ball unveils the design of the new Corner Brook long-term care centre, which is set to open in 2020. (Bernice Hillier/CBC)

The province has released details about the new long-term care facility in Corner Brook, including the private companies that will be involved in the development, construction and operation of the centre.

The new facility, which will include 120 long-term care beds, 15 palliative care beds and 10 rehabilitative care beds is set to open in spring 2020 and will cost around $120 million.

The future site of the new Corner Brook long-term care centre and the new hospital, located at the top of Cpl. Pinksen Memorial Drive on the outskirts of the city. (CBC)

A group that's been called the Corner Brook Care Partnership has been selected to oversee the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the new long-term care centre. The contract will cover a 30 year period.

Public-private partnerships

At an announcement on Friday in Corner Brook, Premier Dwight Ball said the centre will be built and maintained by private contractors but staffed by around 200 public sector employees, who will provide nursing care, laundry, housekeeping and dietary services.

Corner Brook Care Partnership consists of B.C.'s Plenary Group — a developer of health care facilities in North America, Montgomery Sisam Architects, Marco Services as the builder and G.J. Cahill as the service provider.

The province says the project will create 380 person years of employment and $43 million in GDP. Ball says work is set to begin on the project in the coming days.

The long-term care centre will be the first structure to be built on the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital campus in Corner Brook, but is being constructed as a separate project rather than a component of a larger health complex.

Ball said the new Corner Brook hospital would be opened by the fall of 2023, with construction set to start in 2019.

"The region has waited long enough. There is no turning back," he told reporters during the announcement on Friday.

NLFL, CUPE react

Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland & Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL), said while the federation understands the need for long-term care, it has had concerns about public-private partnerships (P3s) for a long time.

When profit is the main motive, she said, something else has to give.

"These companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to show that they've made a profit. They have to do that. So how are they going to make that profit?"

"In the public sector, that profit motive is missing. So it's either less workers doing the same amount of work or less wages."

Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland & Labrador Federation of Labour, says they've had concerns about public–private partnerships for a long time. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Shortly after the announcement, the provincial branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) tweeted, saying the premier "just privatized Newfoundland and Labrador's health care."

When Ball was told about the tweet, he responded by saying the public-private partnership is not a political move, but one that the province pursued to ensure the best delivery of health services in western Newfoundland.

He said CUPE members were among those who took part in consultations about the plan, and that the union's statement is unjustified given the fact that 200 jobs will be created for its members.

"The services will be delivered by the public sector, almost 200 of those in western Newfoundland," Ball said.

"So if they want to tell members of unions that this should not be done, that we should not be providing employment for some of their members, well they can have that debate. But I am very proud and the feedback that we've been getting from many of their members is that they're very proud."

With files from Bernice Hillier and Peter Cowan