PEI nursing homes stay public

Charlottetown :The PEI government has scrapped its plans to privatize new nursing homes.

Under pressure from a broad coalition of health care workers and other community members, the province’s treasurer announced the homes will be public.

A year ago, the government announced it was looking at privatizing the homes – known on the Island as manors – through a public private partnership. The public response was quick and widespread.

CUPE built from its base with the CUPE PEI health council to launch a “Keep our manors public” campaign. The campaign included radio ads, meetings with the premier and other government officials, and an email campaign connecting voters with their member of the legislative assembly.

CUPE also worked closely with other groups under the slogan “no P3 for me”. The campaign kept up the momentum over the summer with three TV ads and a postcard campaign targeting Premier Robert Ghiz. The coalition also kept the public engaged with booths at community events like carnivals, and through a presence on the summer political circuit of barbecues and strawberry socials.   “It’s all paid off,” says CUPE national representative Bill MacKinnon. “This shows clearly the power and benefit of being organized, of working with coalitions, and of taking political action.”

While the provincial treasurer told the media his government will still look to privatize other projects, MacKinnon says it will be a tough sell.

“P3s have always been a four-letter word around here,” says MacKinnon. “The public gets it on this issue, and doesn’t agree with the concept.” Nearly 10 years ago, Islanders forced the government to keep a new hospital in Summerside public, cancelling plans for what would have been the country’s first P3 hospital.