Multi-national American corporation Health Care Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)announced yesterday the $950 million purchase of Ontario-based multi-nationalHealthLease. The deal will add more than 5,000 beds or units in Alberta and the United States to their health care portfolio. Those beds include a 200-bed facility in High River built in part with public funding to a private company called Continuum Health, which was purchased in April by HealthLease. A report issued last year by the University of Alberta-based Parkland Institute showed that private, for-profit assisted living facilities received high return on investment for shareholders but provided a lower quality of care for those living in them than public facilities did. It showed that the private facilities are understaffed by an average of 90 minutes of care per resident each day.
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, issued the following statement today regarding the sale:
"The deal is great news for those in the business of making money off the care of seniors, but research shows that the whole policy of private corporations running seniors' homes is deeply flawed.
This government fails to listen time after time and continues to pursue a path of relentless privatization of the care of our most vulnerable citizens. Health Minister Horne and the health care privateers seem to believe that markets can do everything. Markets are good at lots of things, but they are hopeless at health care. It's called market failure because health care just isn't like consumer goods - sick people don't "consume" health care like other things. People who depend on others for their daily care don't do so because they want to.
The government's continuing care strategy has led to choice and quality of care being seriously compromised, and it will continue in the same way unless they make a real commitment to phasing out private, for-profit elder care and expanding our public health care system to encompass continuing care services, including all residential and home-based forms of elder care.
Private health care and elder care has no upside for Albertans; it makes the system harder to manage and it poisons its ethics. Putting public tax dollars in the pockets of private corporations to provide health care has been a failure from the start. Albertans' taxes subsidize private corporations to build these often oversized seniors' facilities, yet the public gets no ownership out of the deals. The government needs to immediately begin phasing out private, for-profit elder care. After all, public spending should be focused on providing the best care possible for Albertans, not on boosting the profit margins of private corporations."