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LETTER: Why must the new Mount St. Francis health campus be privately owned?

From reader Pegasis McGauley

I am writing to thank the NDP provincial government for their plan to build 75 new long-term care beds in Nelson, along with a whole health campus. This is something we have needed for quite a while and we are extremely happy to see the first steps actually happening. However, we have some questions about this project.

Too many deaths in long-term care facilities from COVID-19 have made it clear that public management is better, meaning much safer for both residents and workers. So we are glad that this health campus is to be administered by the Health Authority. However, we don’t understand why it will not also be publicly owned.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) specifies that the developer will build and own the facility. That seems particularly strange in our case because the property involved, the Mount St. Francis grounds, are already owned by Interior Health. The Nelson RFP specifies selling a piece of this property to the developer to build on, with the Health Authority leasing it back.

Since borrowing is required regardless of ownership, and government can borrow much more cheaply than private business, private ownership means more expense to us taxpayers. Plus the owners profit from the Health Authority lease. There’s also considerably more control over property that you own rather than lease, control over maintenance and even information about the building.

So we’re asking why the BC NDP government is planning that our new long-term care health campus will be privately owned?

Pegasis McGauley

Nelson Chapter, Council of Canadians

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