Profit off of public services should be discouraged.
The recent initiative of the BC government that reverses the 30-year-old decision of healthcare management to contract out nutrition and housekeeping services should be applauded.
Contractors, in this case primarily foreign-owned, are driven by bottom-line profit maximization. This imperative results in lower wages and sub-standard benefits and less reinvestment into the local community.
Direct employees receiving liveable compensation demonstrate a greater loyalty to our health care system. They also don’t have to work multiple jobs and fight exhaustion just to make ends meet. Although the COVID crisis has made it more difficult to fill jobs, contractors have experienced high staff turnover and this often results in inadequate employee orientation/training such as precautions necessary when accessing patients in isolation rooms.
Food is quick-chilled from corporate industrial kitchens and reheated on-site at facilities. We are never told the complete cost of contracting-out, and what penalties exist for non-performance. Are fees charged for the use of in-house support services utilized by contractors, including the transfer of equipment and human resource advice? What are the add-on costs when supplies such as hand sanitizer needs replenishment?
The propaganda that was espoused that contractors saved us money through bulk purchasing of supplies and by their ‘international’ expertise has not stood up to scrutiny. There has been little appreciation that quality health care is best delivered by an integrated team that consists not only of physicians and registered nurses, but also LPNs, care aides, lab assistants, tradespeople, housekeepers and cleaners, food service workers, and many many others.
Kudos to Adrian Dix and Harry Bains for spearheading this long-overdue re-integration.