Critics are slamming the continuation of a private delivery model, as Alberta Health Services announces the expected takeover by an Australian health care company of lab services from DynaLife lab in central and northern Alberta.
As the contract with the Edmonton-based DynaLife labs will expire in 2016, the province put out a request for proposal and Sonic Healthcare Limited was chosen.
“The new model is designed specifically for Albertans, and will set the standard for lab services in Canada,” said Alberta Health Services President and CEO Vickie Kaminski, adding the province spoke with 108 people and 113 teams before choosing Sonic. “We are excited about the future of lab services in our communities.”
The contract will be signed for 15 years at $200 million per year.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta wants the government to look at public ownership.
AUPE sent 9,000 letters to MLAs and former health minister Fred Horne. The union says they have not been able to get in touch with current Health Minister Stephen Mandel.
“Awarding a $3-billion health care contract behind closed doors without debate isn’t the Alberta way of doing things,” said AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers. “There is huge public concern about privatizing hospital labs, and Albertans deserve answers.”
Each year, 27 million lab tests are done in Edmonton.
Elisabeth Ballermann, president of HSAA, said she thought a public lab could be built with less money.
“Neither AHS nor the Conservative government have made a case that privatization of lab services on this scale will work. It has been tried and failed in Edmonton in 1995 and in Calgary in 1996. And yet, here we are going down the same troubled road again,” said Ballermann.
“Instead, this is once again creating uncertainty and stress for thousands of workers who provide vital care for Albertans. Hundreds may unfairly lose access to the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) into which they have paid for years and the reliance on which they have based their careers.”
DynaLife currently operates about 36 labs in central and northern Alberta.