Community Laboratory Services Deal Puts Private Profit over Public Health Care

January 28, 2022
EDMONTON

Community Laboratory Services Deal Puts Private Profit over Public Health Care

Today, Albertans have learned that our public community medical laboratory services have been sold off to DynaLIFE Medical Labs, a private, for-profit company. The contract is slated to begin July 1, and will impact communities all across the province. The change could impact the jobs of as many as 1,400 laboratory workers – it is unclear what it will mean for workers’ pensions.

“On Monday it was EMS Services, today it’s our community laboratory services. This government’s attacks on Albertans’ public health care system just don’t seem to stop,” said Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “This has become a trend for the UCP government. While the pandemic initially slowed their attempts to privatize our health care, they are now wasting no time in selling it off.”

This is just one of a series of moves to privatize our public health care system, including laundry services, surgical services, our continuing care system, EMS services, and others. In fact, they’ve established a new office, "Health Contracting Secretariat," for the sole purpose of building the health care delivery market and reducing barriers to market entry for larger corporate players.

Years of health care cuts and refusal to make much-needed infrastructure and equipment upgrades have left Alberta with a crumbling lab system. In 2019, media reported that lab funds had been frozen and that physicians had been instructed not to buy new equipment: “As ‘shoestring inventors,’ laboratorians have been repairing outdated machines by cannibalizing parts from other broken ones.” 

“They’ve neglected our medical labs to the point of disrepair, and now they’re offering privatization as the only solution, with absolutely no evidence that this stands to benefit the people of this province,” said Gallaway. “Rather than investing in our public system in the interest of all Albertans, the government has opted to shirk their responsibility to provide quality health services, instead leaving it in the hands of a private, for-profit company.”

Laboratory services have been, and will continue to be, essential for effective diagnostic services and are a vital component of achieving timely health services. This has been especially true throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet as Albertans have seen time and again, health care privatization minimizes public oversight over the quality of services, and prioritizes profits at the expense of patient care and staff working conditions.

“Albertans need to be assured that their access to health care services won’t be further disrupted by this change. We need to be assured that this won’t lead to another exodus of pathologists like we saw in the 1990s,” said Gallaway. “Rather than transferring Alberta’s public health dollars to private investors, we should learn from the COVID-19 crisis and invest in improving and expanding our public medical laboratory system that has proved so invaluable during this challenging time.”

“Friends of Medicare is calling on the government and Alberta Health Services to stop this attempt to privatize yet another integral part of our health care system.  We are calling on this government to learn from their previous mistakes and to seek public remedies instead of their ideologically-driven agenda to privatize yet another indispensable part of our health care system,” concluded Gallaway.

We are encouraging Albertans to stand up against the privatization of our vital public health care service by signing the petition to say no to the privatization of Alberta's medical labs.

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