Media Statement on the Handing Over of Publicly Funded Services to the For-Profit Sector by the Shepherd's Care Foundation

On Oct 3rd, 2014 Friends of Medicare will be standing in support of the 157 Shepherd's Care Support workers who were laid off by Shepherd's Care Foundation after this faith-based organization announced that these positions will be handed over to ARAMARK, a $14 billion/yr. multinational for-profit company. These jobs include housekeeping, maintenance, and food services all of which are essential components of quality care for the seniors and vulnerable Albertans who reside in these five facilities.  The residents in the centres that will be impacted reside in Millwoods, Greenfield, Kensington, Vanguard, and Southside Manor.

"Shepherd's Care Foundation has embraced contracting-out to a private corporation as a cure-all aimed at reducing costs, and it will come at the expense of patient care," indicated Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.

"When officials turn to private firms to serve the public on the cheap, hidden costs surface eventually in the form of mismanagement and poor quality of services," states Azocar. In Alberta, privatization of our health care system has taken various forms and hiring for-profit firms to provide the laundry, housekeeping, food, and other services within publicly funded institutions is simply one of the many forms that this government has been using to continuously lay the foundation for privatization by stealth. The underfunding and neglect of this sector is an excuse to rationalize and explain the application of market principles as they transfer services from the public to the private sector. 

Friends of Medicare calls on Premier Prentice, Minister of Health and AHS to do the right thing and reassess current funding levels and formulas. We are also calling on Shepherd's Care to stop trying to address funding shortfalls by contracting out services funded by our public health dollars.

"We urge the Minister of Health and the Premier to immediately address this situation and stop leaving seniors, vulnerable Albertans, and front-line workers to suffer the consequences of years of mismanagement and privatization of our health care system," concludes Azocar. 

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