Nfld. & Labrador

NAPE search for info about Eastern Health contracts stonewalled, says president

Jerry Earle says efforts by the union to uncover contractual details about three companies providing services for Eastern Health are being resisted by the companies.
Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, says this is an indication privatization is not the answer to the province's financial situation. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

NAPE president Jerry Earle says efforts by the union to uncover contractual details about three private companies providing services for Eastern Health are being challenged by the companies.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees issued a news release Wednesday, saying it's been unable to obtain copies of the contracts between the province's largest health authority and the companies that provide environmental and food services support, security services and parking services.

Services like parking control at the Health Sciences Centre have been privatized by Eastern Health. The union representing most public sector workers in Newfoundland and Labrador is fighting privatization. (CBC)

The union identified the companies as Morrison Healthcare/Compass Group/Crothall Healthcare, Paladin Security and Vinci Park/Indigo.

These services were previously offered by unionized Eastern Health employees, but have since been privatized, said Earle.

Companies challenging information requests

NAPE requested the contracts through a formal access to information request, but said in a statement the companies "objected to our request to see their contracts with Eastern Health."

This situation should be seen as a clear warning sign of one of the biggest drawbacks of privatization.- NAPE president Jerry Earle

Earle said the requests were in response to concerns raised by union members in recent months.

"We wanted to see if Eastern Health was getting good value for money from these private corporations, to ensure that taxpayers dollars are being used wisely," Earle said.

"Unfortunately, each of these three companies has objected to our request to see their contracts with Eastern Health."

The union boss said this is not acceptable.

"When you do business with public bodies and with public funds, you have an obligation to be transparent. These corporations obviously put their business interests ahead of the public's right to know."

Earle said all three companies have challenged the information request through the province's Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC).

According to Earle, this is a clear sign that privatization of public services is not necessarily the answer to the province's dire fiscal situation.

"This situation should be seen as a clear warning sign of one of the biggest drawbacks of privatization — lack of transparency and accountability," he said.

"We are extremely concerned and I believe the public will feel the same way."

Meanwhile, Eastern Health released a statement late Wednesday afternoon, saying it cannot release "third party" information without their consent.

The statement said Eastern Health has made a recommendation to the OIPC on the matter, but did not disclose that recommendation.

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