Nfld. & Labrador

Private long-term care means lower cost, better service: Paul Oram

A former cabinet minister and owner of two personal care homes is applauding news that 360 new long-term care beds will be built and operated by private and non-profit groups.

Former health minister Paul Oram, who is also the owner of two personal care homes, is applauding a pre-budget announcement that 360 new long-term care beds will be built and operated by private and non-profit groups.

Former politician Paul Oram, who operates two private care homes in central Newfoundland, said the plan for long-term care homes is welcome news. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis announced the plan Tuesday, which will see four new long-term care facilities constructed to house the 360 new beds.

The plan instantly angered some unions and political leaders, who blasted the plan as the latest example of government shirking its responsibilities and passing them over to the private sector.

Oram, who operates two private care homes in central Newfoundland, said Wednesday the plan is welcome news.

"This is an announcement we've been waiting for a long time to hear," he said. 

Oram told the St. John's Morning Show that unions and other groups that have criticized the announcement are missing the point.

"People rant and roar because there are jobs going to be lost and so on," said Oram.

"When you're talking about public service, it's not about creating jobs — it's about taking care of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

With the government's finances being so tight since oil prices dropped last fall, Oram thinks it only makes sense to turn to the private sector to provide long-term care.

"Right now government is in a situation where the fiscal constraints are significant," he said.

"Here, the private sector takes on all of the financial risk, all of the loans — all government does is pay for the beds."

The benefits of a competitive business

He believes allowing private groups to take over long-term care, operating costs will actually go down.

Paul Davis announced on Tuesday that 360 new long-term care beds, and four new facilities would be built and operated by private groups in three regions of the province. (CBC)

"Right now it costs approximately $10,000 a month to care for a senior in the long-term care facility run by government," he said.

"From what we've seen with our pilot project, the reality is that that number will significantly drop."

Another benefit of allowing private entities to run the long-term care facilities, according to Oram, is the efficiency and quality that comes from competition.

"It's a competitive business," he said.

"My personal care homes have to be very very competitive, which means they have to take care of people and care for seniors very very well, because if not our beds are not filled."

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